April 2, 2011 – Toledo capped an impressive postseason run with its sixth straight victory Saturday. The Rockets won their first women’s basketball title in history by way of a 76-68 win over Southern Cal in the championship game of the Women’s NIT.
With the community and university students embracing the team over the past few weeks, the Toledo players enjoyed their second straight sellout, with a school- and conference-record 7,301 fans on hand. The game sold out in a matter of hours, and the team became the darling of the city over the past few weeks.
The players took care of business on the court Saturday, making their move midway through the second half on the back of junior Naama Shafir, the tournament MVP. With her team clinging to a 49-47 lead and less than a second left on the shot clock, Shafir swished a 3-pointer in traffic during what would amount to a 10-0 Toledo run. USC didn’t give up, though, battling back to 70-66 before Toledo hit its free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Shafir led both teams with 40 points and was named MVP. Joining her on the all-tournament team was Toledo’s Yolanda Richardson; USC’s Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath; Charlotte’s Shannon McCallum; and Emily Hanley of Illinois State. To be eligible for the all-tournament team, the players had to be on a team that advanced to the Final Four of the WNIT.
USC accomplished something no other team has in WNIT history: The Trojans won four games on the road. They defeated UC Santa Barbara at USC, then beat Nevada, BYU, Colorado, and Illinois State to set up the championship game at Toledo.
Toledo played all six games at home, and saw its attendance grow from 2200 in the first round to a bursting-at-the-seams sellout on Saturday. Along the way, the Rockets collected wins over Delaware, Auburn, Alabama, Syracuse, and Charlotte.