Marquette hands Michigan second consecutive loss

Sunday, December 2, 2018 - 10:34pm

Senior guard Nicole Munger poured in 12 points during Michigan's loss to Marquette.

Senior guard Nicole Munger poured in 12 points during Michigan's loss to Marquette. Buy this photo
Annie Klus/Daily

At the five-minute mark of the first quarter, No. 21 Marquette led 13-12. A frenetic pace and litany of turnovers characterized the opening minutes for both teams.

But from that point on, it seemed as if only one team was running, and the other was committing the turnovers.

The Golden Eagles dominated, hitting a trio of three-pointers — two of them in transition — to eventually open up a 10-point lead at the end of the first.

The rest of the game featured much of the same as Marquette (6-1) dispatched Michigan (5-3) easily by a score of 85-74. The eleven-point margin was deceiving, though.

“I think they did whatever they wanted to do,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “They made an incredible amount of 3-point shots, and they were tremendous off the bounce. Just really, really difficult for us to defend. We couldn’t get stops.”

Though the Wolverines’ defense was nowhere to be found for long stretches of the first half, it was largely because they didn’t have time to set up in the half court. Between long defensive rebounds, quick outlets and turnovers, the Golden Eagles looked to exploit Michigan in transition.

Marquette hit eight 3-pointers en route to a 52-point output in the first half — more than the Wolverines had given up to Mount St. Mary’s and Western Michigan over the course of 40 minutes.

As a result of the Golden Eagles’ ability to shred Michigan’s defense, the inexperienced Wolverines forced the issue on their end. Quick shots and hasty possessions only served to exacerbate their defensive issues though.

“We started taking quick shots which resulted in poor transition defense because they were so quick,” Barnes Arico said. “They were able to get easy baskets and drive and kicks off of our quick shots. I think we have to realize we have to be a little more disciplined in those situations. We need to use shot clock and make them run shot clock.”

Michigan struggled to find a rhythm for most of the game. Senior guard Nicole Munger poured in 12 points, as did freshman forward Naz Hillmon. But other than that, the Wolverine starters were largely ineffective offensively. Star senior forward Hallie Thome once again struggled to assert herself in the paint.

In comparison, all of Marquette’s starters scored in double digits. Senior Erika Davenport led the way for them with 21 points on 9-11 shooting.

“I thought their toughness and their hustle was tremendous,” Barnes Arico said. “We talked about it a little bit, but they really got after us and I thought we would be better because we had a major size advantage. It was a little surprising that they came after us as aggressively as they did and we didn’t respond to it.”

Despite a poor overall performance, Michigan clawed its way back in the fourth quarter thanks in large part to the play of its bench. Sophomore guard Priscilla Smeenge, as well as freshmen Ariel Young and Emily Kiser particularly impressed. They faced a 26-point deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter and turned it into just an 11-point defeat.

“I think that group — that group of freshmen that we have,” Barnes Arico said. “You know you add Priscilla to that mix. They’re very coachable. They’re very open-minded. They want to do whatever they can do to help our team be successful. And I think they showed that tonight. They shared the basketball, they made extra passes.”

The game may have ended on a positive note, but the defeat is now the Wolverines’ third in the last four games — granted they have all been to ranked opponents.

Now, coming off that difficult non-conference slate, Michigan should be able to regroup a bit with three mid-major opponents before Big Ten season gets underway at the end of December.

“We threw ourselves to the wolves a little bit,” Barnes Arico said. “But hopefully it’s eye-opening where we are and where we need to be, and what we need to do to get to where we need to be. That’s our goal. It will be nice to get to work and get to practice.” 

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