Penn State downs No. 25 Michigan on late free throw
With the game tied at 75 and just six seconds left on the clock, sophomore guard Nicole Munger went in for a layup.
But Munger’s attempt fell incomplete, and Penn State forward Kaliyah Mitchell grabbed the defensive rebound. Sophomore center Hallie Thome then committed her fifth foul of the day on Mitchell — after battling at least two Nittany Lions guarding her throughout the game — and Mitchell was sent to the free-throw line.
So Mitchell stepped to the line, and with the outcome of the game wavering in the balance, sank the free throw and Michigan’s hopes simultaneously.
Though the Wolverines had one final possession left, the ball was knocked out of bounds off freshman guard Kysre Gondrezick, sealing their 76-75 loss.
“We had six seconds, or five point eight seconds, to bring the ball up the court,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “I thought we rebounded it well, Gondrezick got an opportunity for a left-handed layup, so I thought it was a pretty good look at the end of the game.”
The No. 25 Michigan women’s basketball team (11-5 Big Ten, 22-8 overall) had come so close to toppling the Nittany Lions (9-7, 18-9) in its final game of the season at Bryce Jordan Center. But despite overcoming a 10-point deficit in the third quarter, the Wolverines ultimately fell.
Penn State led by one point at the end of the first quarter, despite five points from Gondrezick and four from junior guard Katelynn Flaherty. The duo would rack up 25 and 22 points, respectively, by the end of the game.
At halftime, Michigan’s deficit was still just two points, as the Wolverines outscored the Nittany Lions, 9-4, in the final three minutes of the second quarter.
The third quarter, though, put Michigan into a hole that it would soon dig itself out of. Penn State came out and took a commanding 10-point lead, but Michigan wouldn’t go down quietly.
Ignited by 12 points from Flaherty, including back-to-back triples, the Wolverines managed to come all the way back and take a 58-56 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Munger hit a corner three on the final possession of that run to put Michigan back on top.
“I thought Kayla Robbins came in and gave us a great spark defensively,” Barnes Arico said. “Those extra free throws that we got and the possession definitely helped us out. I thought we made plays. Katelynn was great in that run, Kysre was great in that run, Nicole hit a big shot. So I thought we made plays down that stretch, and I was proud of the way we were able to fight back.”
The final quarter started off promising for the Wolverines, as they made a 6-0 run courtesy of Gondrezick and Flaherty to push them out to a 64-57 lead.
But the Nittany Lions didn’t let them keep that for long, eventually tying the game at 75 with just six seconds left in regulation. Mitchell finished the game off from the charity stripe.
Despite the disappointing finish to its season, Michigan won 11 of 16 Big Ten contests and secured the No. 3 seed — and a double bye — in the Big Ten Tournament next weekend.
“I think this game is going to put some fire into our stomachs going into this week,” Barnes Arico said. “I think we have something to prove and we should be excited and hungry headed into Friday’s game.”