Michigan’s comeback effort falls short against Indiana

Junior guard Katelynn Flaherty and the Wolverines struggled to shoot from beyond the arc in the loss.

Junior guard Katelynn Flaherty and the Wolverines struggled to shoot from beyond the arc in the loss. Buy this photo
Jeremy Mitnick/Daily
Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 8:33pm

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At halftime, the No. 20 Michigan women’s basketball team appeared dead in the water. Michigan trailed Indiana 40-22 — its lowest point total this season — while shooting just 12.5 percent from 3-point range. The Hoosiers looked to be running away with the contest.

But the Wolverines managed to fight back in the second half. Michigan went on an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter and trimmed the deficit to just eight points. It wasn’t enough, though, as Indiana held on for a 72-61 win. The Wolverines made just 21.3 percent of their three-point shots in the game. 

“Coming into tonight, we needed to remind ourselves that Indiana is a good team,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “They’re a team that’s experienced and a team that plays well at home. It just felt like anything we were throwing at them, they were scoring on.”

With 7:31 to go in the fourth frame, Michigan (10-3 Big Ten, 21-6 overall) found itself in a 65-46 hole until freshman guard Kysre Gondrezick made her first 3-pointer of the night. Junior guard Katelynn Flaherty and freshman forward Kayla Robbins followed Gondrezick up with a pair of layups before Gondrezick made a two-point jumper. The comeback effort was on for Michigan.

Reality then set in for the Wolverines, as Hoosier guard Tyra Buss made a layup with 2:18 to go that put Indiana (8-5, 18-8) ahead by double-digits once again. The Wolverines never recovered from the 68-57 deficit, as they scored only once in their final four possessions.

“We had a legitimate shot in the fourth quarter,” Barnes Arico said. “Then we kind of got stagnant. We got some stops, but we weren’t able to get scores. We haven’t lost in a long time. It’ll be interesting to see how we respond.”

Most of the game was dominated by the Hoosiers, especially the first quarter.

Indiana outscored Michigan 13-0 over the last six minutes of the first frame, which allowed the Hoosiers to take a 23-8 lead. Buss led the charge for Indiana, scoring nine points. The Wolverines, meanwhile, made just three of their 11 shots in the quarter.

Michigan continued to implode in the second stanza, as the Hoosiers rode an 8-0 run to their 40-22 halftime lead. This time, it was guard Karlee McBride who abused the Wolverines, putting up seven points in the frame. Michigan further hindered its cause by turning the ball over six times while Indiana coughed it up just thrice.

“We couldn’t get stops early on, and I think that frustrated us,” Barnes Arico said. “I think that forced us to take some bad looks on (the) offensive end.”

Life was marginally easier for the Wolverines in the third quarter, as they made 53.3 percent of their shots. Michigan even managed a 6-0 run thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore guard Nicole Munger and senior guard Siera Thompson.

But it was nowhere near enough to erase the Wolverines’ deficit. The Hoosiers shot 56.3 percent and commanded a 61-42 edge at the end of the third. The hole proved to be too much for Michigan to crawl out of. 

Despite the defeat, the Wolverines remain two games ahead of Indiana for third place in the Big Ten standings. They can clinch the third seed in the Big Ten Tournament with a win over Michigan State on Sunday, but after falling to the Hoosiers on Thursday, they will also need an Indiana loss to achieve their season-long goal.