Toledo's Naama Shafir bests Crystal Bradford

Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer Sophomore guard Crystal Bradford attempts to grab a loose ball Sunday afternoon while being guarded by Toledo Defenders. Bradford scored only six points and turned the ball over eights as the Chippewas lost to the visiting Toledo Rockets 76-63 at McGuirk Arena.

Women’s basketball was unable to hold onto its halftime lead against Toledo in part due to a big game from senior guard Naama Shafir.

Shafir, native of Hoshaya, Israel, had a huge game for the Rockets, scoring 29 points, five rebounds and three assists, leading them to the win and keeping them in first place in the Mid-American Conference.

“She’s played very well in this building in her last two trips,” said Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop. “In a game where she knows she has to rise to the top and make some key baskets, she is not afraid to step up and make that happen for us.”

At halftime, the game was close with CMU holding a slim 38-34 lead after the Rockets trimmed a 12-point lead down to four. Shafir had managed to score 11 points with two rebounds and two assists, but, shortly after, she got going.

“Right before the half, she decided she was going to take over,” Cullop said. “When we needed to make that run, when we were down 12, you could tell she was not rattled, and she was going to weather the storm and help the team maintain their composure.”

In a matchup between two MAC Player of the Year candidates, in Shafir and Chippewas sophomore guard Crystal Bradford, Shafir had the clear advantage.

After a strong showing in Toledo back in early January, with 27 points and nine rebounds, Bradford hit a shooting slump and was unable to get anything going. This time, it was Shafir’s turn.

After tearing her ACL in their last game, the loss of sophomore guard Jessica Green hurt, and now they will have to adjust to playing without her for the rest of the regular and post seasons.

Sophomore forward Jas’Mine Bracey was added to the starting lineup, and senior Brandie Baker was moved to the point and will continue to play at that position. The rest of the lineup will continue to be adjusted.

This loss puts the team at 10-3 in the MAC, tied with Ball State for No. 2. It's also two games behind Toledo, who will look to clinch at least a share of the regular-season MAC title in its next game against Western Michigan.

CMU still has a chance to finish the year strong and can receive strong seeding in the MAC tournament. It has three games left, one at home against the Cardinals and two on the road against Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan.

With both the Chippewas and BSU tied for No. 2, Thursday's matchup will be for sole possession of second-place and a bye to the semi-final round in the MAC tournament.


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