Same issues plague Michigan in 77-49 loss to Maryland

Sunday, January 12, 2020 - 1:47pm

Kim Barnes Arico's Michigan struggled to overcome turnovers against Maryland on Sunday.

Kim Barnes Arico's Michigan struggled to overcome turnovers against Maryland on Sunday. Buy this photo
Alex Pompei/Daily

In the Michigan women’s basketball team’s first game against Maryland, the Wolverines turned the ball over 23 times, shot 1-of-12 from 3-point range and got no points from their bench — three issues that have plagued them all season and cost them a huge road win.

Entering Michigan’s second game against Maryland, sophomore forward Naz Hillmon stressed that the Wolverines needed to make sure these issues wouldn’t cost them again.

But from the start of Sunday’s game, it was clear they would be a factor. After Michigan (11-5 overall, 2-3 Big Ten) scored on its first possession and prevented the Terrapins (12-4, 3-2) from getting on the board for the first 2:30, the Wolverines turned the ball over six times in six minutes, scoring just two points. The sloppy play allowed Maryland to jump out to an eight-point lead that only grew bigger, resulting in a 77-49 Michigan loss.

“You have certain players you want to get to, certain players you want to give it to at certain times, and when you can’t do that you get out of the flow of the offense,” senior guard Akienreh Johnson said. “They were just denying our next pass or taking away what we really wanted to do.”

As poorly as the first quarter went for the Wolverines, it only got worse in the second. Michigan turned the ball over six more times in the first four minutes of the quarter as the Terrapins went on a 9-2 run. Even with Maryland’s two leading scorers — guard Kaila Charles and forward Shakira Austin — combining for just two points in the first half, the Wolverines trailed by 16 at the break.

“They just took away passing lanes, really denied our lanes,” Johnson said. “They switch one through five and then have the help side, so we’re not really used to teams switching one through five the entire game, even the smallest screen. So really finding plays to get people open because most plays they know so they just stand there.”

With Michigan’s starters struggling and playing sloppily, an all too familiar situation arose. They could have used someone to come off the bench and provide a spark, but the Wolverines’ bench players combined for just four points prior to the fourth quarter, when the game was well out of reach.

The Terrapins, unlike Michigan, found points from their secondary scorers. With Austin on the bench in foul trouble and Charles struggling, Maryland turned to guards Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu — both of whom came off the bench — along with Blair Watson to lead the offense. The trio combined for 25 of the Terrapins’ 37 first-half points.

“We thought if we did a great job on Kaila Charles we would put ourselves in a really good position to be successful,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “We did a tremendous job on taking people out, but then we didn’t take out the other people. We let other people get hot. It’s gotta be a total team defensive effort.”

In the second half, needing a huge comeback, the Wolverines looked to gain momentum with 3-point shooting. But the inability to consistently shoot threes that has afflicted Michigan all season continued, as the Wolverines made 1-of-8 attempted 3-pointers in the second half.

While Michigan took better care of the ball in the second half — committing just eight turnovers as opposed to 14 — the Wolverines had dug themselves too deep of a hole. In the end, their inability to correct the same problems that have hurt them all season and lost them in the first Maryland matchup proved fatal.