Toledo 76, Southern Cal 68

Toledo 76, Southern Cal 68

Published Apr. 3, 2011 12:32 a.m. ET

After all Naama Shafir had done Saturday, she still had to walk home.

Toledo's junior guard was smiling every step of the way after delivering the first postseason championship in school history by scoring a career-high 40 points in the Rockets' 76-68 victory over Southern California in the WNIT championship.

Her final six points - all from the free-throw line in the final 25 seconds - clinched the victory for Toledo (29-8) and earned her MVP honors.

''She was unstoppable,'' Toledo coach Tricia Cullop said of her star guard. ''She had that will and desire that she wasn't going to let this go the other way.''


Shafir, an Orthodox Jew, had to obtain permission from her rabbi to play on Saturdays after she arrived at Toledo from Israel.

Her faith also keeps her from doing certain things from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, including using motorized vehicles, and so she walked to Savage Arena on Saturday and walked home after the victory.

Shafir scored 23 points in the second half, including nine straight during a 12-0 run that gave the Rockets a 57-47 lead. The Trojans (24-13) got within 70-66 in the final minute, but Shafir put the game out of reach with her string of free throws.

Cassie Harberts led USC with 14 points. The Trojans were looking to capture their first postseason title since winning an NCAA championship in 1984. Southern California played five of its six tournament games on the road, traveling to Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Illinois and Ohio during its run to the title game.

''It's difficult fighting on the road,'' USC coach Michael Cooper said. ''I always tell our team championships are won on the road, but it's always a tough fight. We fought as hard as we could.''

Toledo's sold-out crowd of 7,301 may have been the difference. The Rockets' ended the season on an 18-game home winning streak, including all six of their victories in the WNIT.

Toledo capped its historic championship run behind Shafir, who was one of three Rockets to reach double figures. Melissa Goodall scored 12 points and Haylie Linn had 10.

With Shafir unable to speak to reporters before sundown, her teammates did the talking.

''She is a special player and you can't doubt that for one minute,'' Goodall said. ''She has been the little engine that could and she's been our heartbeat all the way from the start of the season all the way until now.

''She has really carried us when we needed her to most.''