After completing its toughest non-conference schedule in program history, the women’s basketball team will begin conference play Thursday at division leader Toledo.
CMU comes into play with a 6-7 record, which is good enough for second in the Mid-American Conference West division behind Toledo, who is riding a 12-game win streak with a 12-1 record.
The toughest non-conference schedule in the nation belonged to the Chippewas this season, and head coach Sue Guevara said she knows that having played these teams will only benefit them heading into conference play.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that it has helped us,” Guevara said. “I think we’re pretty battle-tested. I think we’ve played hard against some of the best teams in the country that are bigger and more physical than us, and I think we have played everyone pretty tough.”
The Rockets and CMU were picked to finish first and second in the MAC West this season, respectively, with 24 first-place votes going to UT and six to the Chippewas.
When playing the Rockets, you have to find ways to score on their defense, which is currently ranked first in the conference as they only give up 54 points per game. CMU will look to attack the basket with its high-scoring offense, ranked second in the conference coming into play.
Sophomore guard Crystal Bradford said that in order to defeat Toledo at home, where it’s 30-2 since 2008, the Chippewas will have to attack the glass and be physical.
“We’re definitely going to have to match their intensity,” Bradford said. “We have to rebound consistently, and we need to play every possession. We have to make sure we get back in transition and communicate.”
Guevara said she wants to focus on playing their style of offense and to not let Toledo’s defense dictate their play.
“Toledo takes pride in their defense and taking away what you want to do,” Guevara said. “We have faced this defense before. We’re just going to run our offense, and maybe make a few tweaks in there, but we’re going to attack them just like everybody else.”
CMU comes into the game with its bench having accounted for 53 percent of its total offense this season, outscoring opponents 499-207. Guevara said she looks for the bench to continue to play a factor heading into conference play.
“I think with the speed of the game, we’ve played very well, because we bring in fresh legs,” Guevara said. “I anticipate the role of the bench is not going to change come conference play. Our bench is battle-tested, too; so, when preparing to play us, you’re preparing for ten people as opposed to five or six.”
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday at Savage Arena, where the Rockets are 6-0 this season.
The Chippewas last won there in 2006, beating Toledo 60-48.