After dropping its first conference game of the season against Penn State on Monday, the Michigan women’s basketball team hit the road to face Indiana (1-5 Big Ten, 10-9 overall), and it didn’t miss a beat.
The 23rd-ranked Wolverines started off slowly, but never looked back once they got their offense going, winning 61-43.
After a season-worst 27-percent shooting from the field against Penn State, Michigan (5-1, 16-3) found more success on offense, shooting 42.6 percent from the field.
“I thought we came out a little tight,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I don’t necessarily think we came out ready to play from the get-go. But after the first few minutes, I think we woke up a little bit and really started to play well and (we) ended the first half strong. And I really like how we came out and started the second half as well.”
The Wolverines went into halftime with a 13-point lead and came out fast in the second to build their lead to as much as 24. But with 11 minutes remaining, the Hoosiers went on a 10-0 run that stopped Michigan’s momentum and cut its lead to 13. After a timeout, the Wolverines continued to struggle, enduring a 6:49 stretch without scoring, but were able to pull away in the end.
The last time these two teams met, on Jan. 3, senior forward Nya Jordan had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Tonight proved no different, and Jordan ended the game with 10 points and added 11 rebounds. It was the fourth time this year that she has grabbed double-digit rebounds.
Meanwhile, the play of senior forward Kate Thompson was vaguely familiar to the last time these teams squared off as well. It was another slow night for Thompson who was held scoreless until the last five seconds of the first half. She ended the game with 13 points on 3-for-9 shooting from behind the arc.
“I thought (Indiana was) really trying to take Kate out,” Barnes Arico said. “They did a good job at that.”
On the other side of the court, Michigan held the Hoosiers’ leading scorer, forward Aulani Sinclair, to just 14 points on 33-percent shooting, below her 18.1 points per game average.
Michigan heavily relied on its second-leading scorer, senior center Rachel Sheffer. Four days after reaching the 1,000-point mark, Sheffer continued her hot streak. She ended the game with 19 points, 12 of which were scored in the first half.
“I thought Rachel did a tremendous job of really recognizing what the officials were letting go and not letting go,” Barnes Arico said. “She really did a great job to get to the free-throw line, and we talked about that at halftime.
“I didn’t think we did as good a job in the second half (with our free throws). They did a better job at getting to the free-throw line in the second half. That’s what (helped) their run.”
Fouls ended up being the big storyline for the Wolverines, who found huge success (14-for-18) at the line, including 11-for-13 in the first half. Senior guard Jenny Ryan found herself in foul trouble early in the second half, after picking up three quick fouls, but she ended the game with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Wolverines have little time to rest, with their next game only three days away against Iowa in Ann Arbor.