Michigan uses prolific defense to stifle Ferris State in exhibition
With 2:48 left in the first quarter of Saturday’s exhibition game, Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico called a timeout. Her team led, 21-13, but it was giving Ferris State too many scoring opportunities for her liking. After allowing the Bulldogs to score easily in the post early on, the Wolverines regrouped on defense after the timeout, forcing three straight turnovers.
Michigan implemented a three-quarter court press soon after, giving the Bulldogs little room to dribble or even find a clear passing lane. Ferris State couldn’t find any rhythm on offense, struggling to earn open shots. It ended the quarter with a shot-clock violation.
The Bulldogs didn’t score again until there were nearly eight minutes left in the second quarter, and the Wolverines used their size advantage and hustle to coast past Ferris State, 109-39, in the exhibition.
“We really pressured the ball,” Barnes Arico said. “I thought we gave great help and we made them feel uncomfortable, forcing turnovers. And forcing those turnovers led to easy baskets for us in transition.”
Meanwhile, Michigan maintained an up-tempo offense in transition, using its skilled shooters to spread the floor. The Wolverines converted their first three 3-point attempts, two of which came from sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty.
During that half-quarter stretch, Michigan more than doubled its point total. The defense alternated from man to zone and tallied 22 points off of 15 Bulldog turnovers. Flaherty shot 4-for-5 from behind the arc and led all scorers with 16 points. Freshman guard Nicole Munger added 13 points off the bench, finding open lanes to the basket for her teammates to easily feed her the ball on the run.
Michigan racked up 11 steals in the first half, and though the Wolverines led handily, they showed no mercy on defense to start the second half.
“At halftime, Coach came in and set the ground, like, ‘We need to pick it up (on defense),’ ” said freshman center Hallie Thome. “We went out there with a different mindset, and if we work together and talk, things will tend to go our way.”
Michigan began the second half by feeding the ball to the 6-foot-5 Thome, who scored the first 10 points of the half before Flaherty hit another 3-pointer. She added another steal on the next possession, leading to a wide-open layup that added another pair to her team-high 28 points.
“(Assistant coach Megan Duffy) told me to not go away from what I’m great at and just shoot it,” Flaherty said. “Throughout the practices this week, if I gave up an open shot, my teammates told me that I need to shoot that, so I think that’s what helped me.”
Freshman guard Boogie Brozoski displayed flashes of her relentless defensive style as well, keeping the Ferris State guards honest when protecting the ball and diving on the hardwood for loose balls. Munger intercepted passes in the lane, proving the freshmen are talented defenders, along with the upperclassmen.
The Wolverines passed the century mark in scoring with five minutes left in the final quarter, putting them at 101 points. At that point, the Bulldogs had been in a scoring drought for over four minutes and had scored just 35 total points. Michigan shot 67 percent from the field, including the same percentage from behind the arc.
Sunday’s contest will not go in the win column because it was an exhibition, but the Wolverines didn’t lack any effort on the floor. Their opponent was not on par with the talent Michigan will be facing all season, but the Wolverines hustled without the ball and showed a prolific shooting ability. Despite the slow start, Michigan displayed little of the sloppiness that typically comes with early-season games.
It took them just one timeout to regroup.