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Wolverines advance to WNIT third round with 68-52 win over Duquesne

Patrick Barron/Daily
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By Lev Facher, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 24, 2014

The Michigan women’s basketball team’s second-round WNIT matchup with Duquesne was an odd mix of offensive dominance and haplessness, turnovers and assists, and a healthy collection of 3-pointers and airballs.

Whatever it was, it worked — the Wolverines (20-13) advanced to the tournament’s third round with a 68-52 drubbing of the Dukes (20-13) on Monday night at Crisler Center.

Junior forward Cyesha Goree held serve throughout the night, prevented from singlehandedly matching Duquesne’s first-half rebounding and scoring figures only by a pair of early personal fouls that confined her to the bench for six minutes.

When Goree was on the floor, she made her presence felt. Her 24 points and 11 rebounds marked her 13th double-double of the year, and made her just the second player in Michigan history to grab more than 300 rebounds in a season. It wasn’t the only record Goree helped set, either — her mid-first half layup off a top-to-bottom lob from senior forward Val Driscoll gave the Wolverines 501 combined assists on the year, an all-time program record.

Goree’s dominance continued well into the second half, when back-to-back 3-point plays pushed Michigan’s lead to 29 and her point total to 20.

“It’s all about being foused and checking in,” Goree said. “My teammates really did a good job of looking to push in transition and establish an inside presence, and establish a transition game.”

The contest had the early makings of a blowout similar in proportion to Michigan’s 38-point first-round win over Stony Brook. Despite three turnovers in the first four minutes, the Wolverines took a commanding 15-5 lead that could easily have been larger if not for the turnover epidemic that had Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico on her knees several feet feet onto the court begging her players to take better care of the ball.

The win gives Michigan three consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in program history.

“It’s very exciting, I’m happy to be a part of something that’s rarely done here,” said freshman guard Siera Thompson, who continued her streak of having made a 3-pointer in each of the 33 games she has played for Michigan, scoring 12 points in the process.

The outcome was largely decided in the first half, giving Barnes Arico the opportunity to put in several players who typically don’t see game action.

Freshman guard Danielle Williams made a rare early game appearance just eight minutes into the first half, a curious decision by Barnes Arico given that the Wolverines’ lead stood at just 10 points.

Michigan’s rotation throughout the regular season stretched just six deep, with freshman guard Paige Rakers getting the occasional call as the second player off the bench — she ended up playing 10 minutes on the night, mostly in the second half. Senior Kendra Seto and sophomore Rebecca Lyttle both checked in at the forward position with three minutes remaining. Oft-injured sophomore forward Kelsey Mitchell made just her third career appearance shortly thereafter, scoring the first points of her Michigan career on a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left.

The Wolverines will take on Bowling Green on Thursday night in their first road game of the tournament, a rematch of both teams’ season opener on Nov. 8 — the Falcons won that game, 63-52, on a neutral court.