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Poor shooting dooms women’s basketball in loss

Alex Galel/Daily
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By Max Cohen, Daily Sports Editor
Published January 23, 2014

The beginning of the Michigan women’s basketball game Thursday night against Ohio State featured more bricks than an 18th-century Georgian home.

The Wolverines (4-2 Big Ten, 13-6 overall) started the game shooting 2-for-16 from the field and couldn’t overcome their early shooting woes. Despite Michigan’s 11-0 spurt in the last 2:44 of the first half, a 19-2 second-half run by the Buckeyes (3-3, 13-9) sealed their 61-50 victory at Crisler Center.

With the win, the Buckeyes avenged a blowout loss earlier in the season to the Wolverines.

This time, Ohio State didn’t fade like it had in the first meeting when a strong end to the first half for Michigan jumpstarted an easy victory. On Thursday, Ohio State continued attacking when the game was close at the end of the first half. The Buckeyes embarked on their lengthy run over a span of nine minutes in the second half to take control of the game. It was the first time the Wolverines played an opponent for a second time this season, and Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico suggested that added pressure for her young team.

“When they got their first lead, we really got super tight,” Barnes Arico said. “We were never really able to recover.”

The run was a reversal of roles for the teams. The Wolverines looked to be in control right before the run when junior guard Shannon Smith scored seven consecutive points to give Michigan a 40-33 lead with more than 11 minutes remaining in the game. Then, the Buckeyes marched right back and made the game their own.

On their run to end the first half, the Wolverines focused on bruising their way into the interior. Junior forward Nicole Elmblad scored five of Michigan’s 11 points during the run, as a result of her work around the basket. Elmblad made a close jumper, drew a foul and made the free throw to tie the game at 21, and then collected an offensive rebound and put it back up to give the Wolverines the lead on their next possession. Sophomore guard Madison Ristovski hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds before halftime to finish the run and give the Wolverines a 26-21 lead.

For the first 15 minutes of the game, points were at a premium for Michigan. The Wolverines uncharacteristically failed to find open looks until junior forward Cyesha Goree made a layup with just more than five minutes left before the break.

“I think we just came out super flat,” Barnes Arico said. “We missed a bunch of shots, and I think the more shots we missed, the more pressure we felt.”

Ohio State didn’t fare much better. The Buckeyes shot 29 percent from the field and committed 12 turnovers in the first half, keeping Michigan in the game.

The game was tied at 33 with just a tick less than 13 minutes remaining, until Smith scored seven straight points, finding all of her success on the run driving to the basket for layups. But the Wolverines were unable to replicate the success in the lane throughout the contest.

Michigan’s offense continued to sputter through much of the second half. It shot 7-for-27 to start the half until Elmblad made a layup with 2:07 left.

The Wolverines turned the ball over 17 times in the defeat, dooming their attempt to claw back from the early hole.

“We played nervous,” Smith said. “They just outworked us.”