Shafir’s Shabbat show propels Toledo to WNIT title

21-year-old earns tournament MVP honors for display, scoring 23 points in the second half, including nine straight during a 12-0 run.

Na’ama Shafir 311 (photo credit: Toledo Athletics)
Na’ama Shafir 311
(photo credit: Toledo Athletics)
Despite having to walk to the arena because it was still Shabbat, Israeli guard Na’ama Shafir scored a career-high 40 points on Saturday to lead the University of Toledo to a 76-68 victory over Southern California in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament championship game.
The 21-year-old earned tournament MVP honors for her display, scoring 23 points in the second half, including nine straight during a 12-0 run that gave Toledo (29-8) a 57-47 lead.
USC (24-13) closed to within four points (70- 66) in the final minute, but Shafir scored six points from the free-throw line in the final 25 seconds to clinch a first postseason championship in school history.
Shafir, an Orthodox Jew who was given special permission from her rabbi to wear shorts and play for Toledo on Shabbat, walked to Savage Arena and back to her home after the victory and didn’t speak to the media.
“She’s as good as they come, and I think tonight she showed she’s one of the best guards in the country,” UT coach Tricia Cullop said.
“She was unstoppable. She had that will and desire that she wasn’t going to let this go the other way. Na’ama has shown that at times when we’ve needed her the most.”
Shafir was one of three Rockets to reach double figures, with Melissa Goodall scoring 12 points and Haylie Linn adding 10.
“She is a special player and you can’t doubt that for one minute,” Goodall said about Shafir.
“She has been the little engine that could and she’s been our heartbeat all the way from the start of the season until now.
“She has really carried us when we needed her the most.”
“It was amazing,” Shafir’s teammate, Yolanda Richardson, said. “She knew what she could do out there, and she knew her game, and she knew to keep going to the basket. They kept giving her opportunities, and she kept taking them.”