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Women's basketball run not enough to overcome earlier lapses

Allison Farrand/Daily
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By Max Cohen, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 22, 2014

Down 16 early in the second half, senior day looked to be a dull affair for the Michigan women’s basketball team.

The home careers of senior forward Val Driscoll and fifth-year senior Kendra Seto were practically etched in the history books, their final home game a blowout loss.

The Wolverines (8-7 Big Ten, 17-11 overall) fought their way back and delayed the finality of the moment, but their efforts weren’t enough in the 74-70 defeat against Iowa.

Hawkeye runs late in the first half and at the beginning of the second half doomed Michigan. In the end, the Wolverines had a chance, but freshman guard Siera Thompson’s game-tying 3-point attempt was blocked with 18 seconds left to seal the loss.

Michigan slowly chipped away at the lead until it came within striking distance, trailing by eight with less than 12 minutes remaining. Then, sophomore guard Madison Ristovski drained two consecutive 3-pointers to cut the deficit.

A layup by junior guard Shannon Smith then tied the game, and Driscoll fittingly gave the Wolverines their first lead at 60-58. By the time the 15-0 run ended, Michigan held a 62-58 lead.

“When we got the lead, that’s when we’ve really got to dig down,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico.

The Wolverines couldn’t manage to do that, though. After Michigan took its first lead since 8:06 left in the first half, the game was back-and-forth before the Hawkeyes (9-5, 21-7) pulled away late with superior shot selection.

Iowa’s all-around dominance late in the first half and early in the second couldn’t be offset by the Wolverines’ game-changing comeback. Michigan’s success provided the bookends of the game, starting it off strong on a 10-0 run and then finishing it off in a similar manner before falling in the final moments. But the time in between allowing the opponent to dominate offensively has been a cause of concern for the Wolverines.

“The biggest thing most of the time when they go on their runs is our defense and just being checked in, and knowing their personnel,” said Michigan guard Nicole Elmblad.

All season long, the Wolverines have defied logic by winning games with an inexperienced team in the Big Ten that few thought they could. But in Saturday’s game, Iowa guard Samantha Logic was the first kind of logic Michigan couldn’t overcome.

Logic provided the scoring that allowed the Hawkeyes to begin pulling away, scoring eight points in the final six minutes of the first half. The guard displayed range from all over the court in the 16-8 Iowa run, hitting two 3-pointers and a long jumper to give the Hawkeyes the 40-31 halftime lead. Logic accumulated 11 points by the break to go along with two assists.

The Wolverines had no answers on offense when Iowa went on a 7-0 run to open the half, pushing the lead to 16.

“We need to have a killer instinct on the defensive end,” Barnes Arico said. “I thought they scored in bunches to finish the first half and to start the second half.”

Michigan found its offensive groove, slicing the lead to five with 11:16 left when Ristovski hit her first 3-pointer.

Driscoll ended the game and her home career with a career high of 18 points, and after the game thought about what she has seen from the Big Ten conference this season.

“That’s what’s so good about this conference,” Driscoll said. “Any night, any team could win. If you’re the last-place team or the first-place team.”

The Wolverines showed that any team could come back from a 16-point deficit. But on senior day, the end result was still a loss.