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Balanced attack leads women's basketball to victory over Boston University

By Daniel Feldman, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 24, 2012

Sandwiched between Michigan’s football and hockey game on Saturday, the Michigan women’s basketball team took on Boston University (3-3) in its second game of a back-to-back – it's only one of the regular season.

“It’s a good experience to have,” senior forward Rachel Sheffer said. “We know the other team had to travel a lot more and we had to capitalize on that.”

After senior guard Kate Thompson led the Wolverines (5-1) to a tough victory over Harvard on Friday with a career-high 24 points — tying a school-record with six 3-pointers — Sheffer took over the scoring reins against the Terriers, scoring 13 first-half points and 18 total in the 67-58 victory.

With the teams trading baskets for most of the first half, Michigan gradually started to take control of the game with an 8-0 run to end the first stanza. Thompson sparked the Wolverines' run by scoring seven consecutive points, including a jumper to tie the game and a 3-pointer to give Michigan a 28-25 lead.

The Wolverines extended their lead to six on a 3-point play by senior forward Nya Jordan right before halftime. Jordan produced a solid game off the bench, chipping in seven points, four rebounds and a team-high four assists.

Boston kept the game close by relying on the 3-pointer, before going scoreless for the final 3:27 of the first half. Out of its 29 first-half field goal attempts, 16 came from beyond the arc. Led by senior guard Kristen Sims, who made three of the team's six 3-pointers – and finished with a game-high 19 points, the Terriers managed to hang around, despite zero points in the paint during the first 20 minutes of the game.

“In the first half, most of their points were on threes,” Sheffer said in regard to how the team adjusted at halftime. “So we talked about extending our zone.”

Michigan, however, had a more balanced approach in the first stanza, shooting 10-23 from the field, including 3-8 from 3-point distance.

The second half seemed to resemble the first as Boston and Michigan remained six points apart as a timeout was called five minutes into the half.

After being limited to just two points in the first half, senior guard Jenny Ryan scored seven of Michigan’s first nine points to start the half, including five in a row to push its lead to eight.

At halftime, Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico encouraged Ryan to take more shots.

“Jenny, you’ve taken one shot,” Barnes Arico, recalled telling Ryan. “This year, we need her to take shots.”

Still, the Terriers answered, going on an 11-2 run to take a 43-42 lead.

“That kind of got us off guard,” said Sheffer. “But then we found our rhythm.”

The lead would not last long as freshman Madison Ristovski answered with a basket to regain the lead and Ryan connected from straightaway on a three to stretch the lead to four. Ryan continued her hot shooting, making her third 3-pointer of the half to push the lead back to eight with 6:37 remaining. Playing all 40 minutes, Ryan finished with 15 points to go along with eight rebounds.

“I wasn’t really trying to be an offensive threat (in the first half),” said Ryan. “So in the second half to open up other scoring options, I needed to really start looking for my shot.”

Sophomore guard Nicole Elmblad added the dagger for Michigan with 2:36 remaining, hitting a midrange jumper to give the Wolverines an 11 point lead – their biggest lead before adding free throws in the final minute. Elmblad would finish the game with a career-high, and game-high nine rebounds.

“She really stepped up in rebounding,” said Sheffer. “She does the little things really well.”

Elmblad also contributed four assists along with three steals and nine points in a stat-stuffing performance.

“We really played team basketball and that’s what helped us win at the end of the game,” said Ryan.