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Michigan takes on Duquesne in second round of WNIT

James Coller/Daily
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By Lev Facher, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 23, 2014

After a grueling, up-and-down Big Ten season, the chance to record a 38-point victory over Stony Brook in the first round of the WNIT came as a welcome respite for the Michigan women’s basketball team.

But the Wolverines are ready for a bigger challenge in the second round. If they have their way, Monday night’s clash with Duquesne could easily go the way of Friday’s win, in which Michigan made a season-high 11 3-pointers.

Though the Dukes’ 20-12 record gives them a slight advantage over the Wolverines (8-8 Big Ten, 19-13) on paper, it belies a schedule that Michigan could only dream of, almost entirely devoid of national powerhouses and ranked teams. Duquesne has played only one ranked opponent this season — No. 5 Notre Dame — and fell 40 points short of a win. In fairness, the Wolverines can lay claim to a smaller deficit against the Fighting Irish, having suffered an 86-64 loss at their hands in December.

The Dukes are led offensively by senior forward Wumi Agunbiade, an Ontario native averaging 15.6 points per game. Accompanying her is 6-foot-1 guard Raegan Moore, who averages 14.1 points per game and boasts a 41.2 percent mark from beyond the 3-point line. The duo could pose problems for Michigan’s frontcourt tandem of junior Cyesha Goree and senior Val Driscoll, whose ability to stay out of early-game foul trouble is tenuous at best.

But the defensive end might not be the difference-maker regardless, if the Wolverines can come close to replicating Friday’s offensive exhibition. Sophomore guard Madison Ristovski set a career high with five 3-pointers, and junior guard Shannon Smith recorded 13 assists, accounting for almost half of Michigan’s 28 as a team.

Should the Wolverines advance, they’d take on the winner of Monday’s Bowling Green-St. Bonaventure contest. The third-round matchup is a potential reenactment of Michigan’s season opener, in which Bowling Green pulled away in the game’s final minutes, on a neutral court. But before the Wolverines can set their sights on revenge, they’ll need to take care of business on Monday.

A win would give the Wolverines their sixth 20-win season in program history, and the second in Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico’s two years in Ann Arbor.

Once again, Michigan is offering $8 tickets to the general public, discounted to $4 for students. The Wolverines are also offering 300 free tickets to University faculty and staff for the duration of the tournament.