Michigan looking to redeem itself against Iowa

Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 9:13pm

Junior guard Jillian Dunston and the Wolverines will seek to maintain their home-court advantage Sunday.

Junior guard Jillian Dunston and the Wolverines will seek to maintain their home-court advantage Sunday. Buy this photo
Jeremy Mitnick/Daily

At Crisler Center, the Michigan women’s basketball team is known for its third-quarter dominance. It typically outscores opponents in the first ten minutes after the half. 

Yet, the Wolverines recently took their prowess on the road to Urbana-Champaign, scoring 26 out of their 86 total points in the third. 

Michigan (7-2 Big Ten, 18-5 overall) will now have an opportunity to keep its momentum going in Sunday’s game against Iowa (5-4, 14-8). The Wolverines have yet to lose a game in their own arena, and they will be looking to maintain their home-court advantage. The last time the two teams met was in last year’s Big Ten Tournament, where the Hawkeyes managed to steal the game, 97-85. 

“(Last year’s game) was a great game in the Big Ten Tournament,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said after the Illinois game. “(Senior guard Siera Thompson) got in foul trouble in that game and I thought that really hurt us. 

“Iowa’s a great team. We were up big early against on them, and that hurt us.” 

The Hawkeyes rank second in the Big Ten, and 10th nationally, in assists per game, averaging 18.3. Similarly, Iowa is in third-place in the conference for total assists with 384. Michigan doesn’t quite match up to the Hawkeyes in this respect, averaging 17.0 per game in conference play. Thompson leads the charge with 124 total for the season. Thompson is also just 28 points away from breaking into Michigan’s all-time scorers list. 

Freshman guard Kysre Gondrezick has the most after Thompson’s assists efforts, but she still has a total of just 70. 

Gondrezick has had a successful week, earning both Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Week honors after helping Michigan dominate Northwestern, 80-54, on Jan. 24. She tied her career highs in both points with 22 and rebounds with seven and sunk a career-high six 3-pointers. It was the first time she earned the Player of the Week award, but the fourth time for the freshman award.

The performance snagged Gondrezick the US Basketball Writers Association Freshman of the Week award, too. 

Gondrezick’s offensive efforts — she averages 13.7 points per game — are matched by sophomore center Hallie Thome and junior guard Katelynn Flaherty. Thome averages 15 points per game, and Flaherty a whopping 20. 

Flaherty will have to measure up to Hawkeye guard Ally Disterhoft, who ranks third on Iowa’s all-time career scoring list. She has amassed 1,876 career points and is on the hunt for first. 

Thome, Flaherty, Gondrezick Thompson and junior guard Jillian Dunston have consistently started in the past eight games this season. Senior guard Danielle Williams is the only player outside of the starting five to play in every game — she has a total of 409 minutes this season. Williams and sophomore guard Nicole Munger — who has played in 21 games for 261 total minutes — have a 50-percent shooting average on threes.

The Wolverines game against the Hawkeyes will be the culmination of Michigan’s Alumni weekend. 

“I think it’s going to be a great basketball game because we’re very similar in a lot of ways,” Barnes Arico said. “But we’re at home, so I think that’s worth (something).” 

Michigan sits firmly in third place in the conference, whereas Iowa just managed to claim fifth. The Hawkeyes had their most recent win against Rutgers on Thursday after falling to No. 3 Maryland on Jan. 29 with a final score of 100-81. 

If the Wolverines continue dominating the third quarter and match the offense led by Iowa’s Disterhoft, they could be in for a comfortable win. 

“(The Hawkeyes) are a good team,” Barnes Arico said. “We just seem to be playing with really good confidence at home. We love our home crowd, we love the fans we’ve been able to get and our kids really enjoy the atmosphere and really enjoy playing there.”