Munger guides Michigan against Washington
Judging by the first half, it seemed like the game would come down to the wire. The Michigan women’s basketball team (5-1) held a slight, three-point edge over Washington (3-3) with the contest still up for grabs.
But in the second half, senior guard Nicole Munger did everything she could to help the Wolverines pull away in an 80-73 victory that garnered them a third-place finish at the Gulf Coast Showcase, Sunday evening in Estero, Fla.
“I’m just really happy with the way that we just kept fighting and kept fighting,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico to WTKA after the game. “So I just think it speaks volumes.”
With one second remaining in the third stanza, the Huskies converted a jumper to tie the game at 55. The Wolverines quickly regained the lead in the fourth, off a layup from senior center Hallie Thome, but couldn’t take full control, so the game remained close. And although Michigan ultimately held the lead until the final buzzer, Washington still had hope.
Munger made sure to crush that hope.
With just over three minutes remaining, guard Missy Peterson capitalized on a fast break to keep the Huskies within five points. Munger responded right away from beyond the arc, but then forward Hannah Johnson made a triple of her own to keep Washington in the game.
The Huskies called a timeout to plan their comeback, but when play resumed, Munger drained another dagger from the 3-point line to spoil their plans. Freshman guard Amy Dilk then made a layup on the Wolverines’ next offensive possession to give her team a 10-point lead — its biggest of the night — that sealed the deal.
Munger finished the game with seven 3-pointers and a stellar 56.3 percent field goal percentage for a team-high 27 points.
“Incredible. Absolutely incredible, and so happy for her,” Barnes Arico said. “I mean, she’s just an unbelievable kid — unbelievable player in our program — and just really personifies what we stand for.”
Dilk also contributed significantly with 19 points and seven assists, while Thome and junior forward Kayla Robbins also scored in double digits with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
“She has really shown what she’s capable of doing,” Barnes Arico said of Dilk. “And she was pretty special for sure.”
The first half was a back-and-forth fiasco; every time Michigan scored, the Huskies struck back and vice versa. The lead changed 20 times throughout the first two frames, with neither team building more than a four-point advantage. The Wolverines had a bit of an upper hand, though, as they never trailed after Thome made a layup with about three and a half minutes left in the second frame.
“It was incredible. We knew it was a tough game. We looked a little tired in the first half. We weren’t getting back in transition defense like we normally do,” Barnes Arico said. “They challenged us in so many ways. And everytime we got ahead and we thought we had a lead, they’d cut it. It was a heck of a battle for us.”