After falling behind 11-0 in Friday’s loss against Utah, the Michigan women’s basketball team (3-1) was determined to get off to a quicker start in its game against Seton Hall (2-2). For the Wolverines, it was a 180-degree switch, as Michigan jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the game and never looked back, as they coasted to a 72-29 victory.
For Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico, seeing a former Big East foe signaled a cakewalk, as she defeated Seton Hall in her ninth consecutive game against them.
“I kind of know their coaches, their players and everything that they do,” Barnes Arico said. “I think it’s a little bit of an advantage. It’s always nice when you know your opponents.”
With a tenacious defense that remained constant throughout the game, the Wolverines held the Pirates to six first-half points on two field goals and one free throw, and they led 35-6 at the half.
“We just had to let the past go. We let Utah go,” said senior guard Jenny Ryan. “We focused on Seton Hall and we really focused on the first four minutes which we let go in Utah and that was the difference.”
The defense was visible early as Ryan stole and blocked a shot on Seton Hall’s second and third possession, leading to a fastbreak for Michigan and an eventual layup for Ryan.
Following a 3-pointer by senior guard Kate Thompson and another layup by Ryan, Seton Hall was forced to call its first timeout at the 15:33 mark, in an attempt to stop the dismantling at the hands of the Wolverines.
The struggles continued for the Pirates, as they failed to register their first points until 7:19 into the game, on a 3-point basket by freshman forward Tabatha Richardson-Smith.
The Michigan onslaught didn’t stop, as the Wolverines went on a 26-3 run to close the first half while causing Seton Hall to shoot 7.7 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, Thompson dropped a career-high and game-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Sheffer contributed 16 points and eight rebounds, while Ryan also broke the 10-point plateau with 11.
In addition to causing the Pirates to shoot so poorly in the first half, the Wolverines outrebounded them 21-14 – including 18-9 on the defensive end. In total, they out-rebounded Seton Hall 43-33, with 35 of the boards coming off the defensive glass.
Perhaps the most noteworthy fact about Michigan’s complete domination was Seton Hall’s 12:19 drought between scoring points in the first half. The 29 points by Seton Hall marked Michigan’s program-low for points allowed in a game.
The story wasn’t any different in the second half as the Wolverines outscored the Pirates 12-3 to start the stanza.
Seton Hall finally reached double digits with 12:11 left in the game with two free throws but never got within 30 points of Michigan.
Despite being pressed consistently throughout the second half, the Wolverines kept finding ways to get the ball downcourt and made it look easy compared to their opponents.
Turnovers were the only blemish for Michigan. Though they the blew the Pirates out of the water, the Wolverines still committed 24 turnovers, matching Seton Hall.
“I think for a lot of it, we're going to have to handle the pressure better,” said senior forward Rachel Sheffer. “I think that’s just a glimpse of what the Big Ten is going do to us, so we just have to work on handling pressure better.”
Michigan finally cleared its bench with 2:47 left as sophomore guard Aquashia Anderson saw the court for the second time this season and sophomore forward Cyesha Goree got her first game action. Freshman guard Symone Denham also saw the first action of her career with less than a minute left in the blowout.
“I think it’s always important (to get your bench players in),” said Barnes Arico. It’s nice for them to get on the opportunity to get on the floor and contribute.”