Wolverines cruise past Delaware State
Christmas came early for the No. 23 Michigan women’s basketball team (11-2). The Wolverines’ present? A commanding 105-36 victory over Delaware State (1-9) Thursday afternoon at Crisler Center.
The Wolverines ended the game — marking the end of Michigan’s non-conference play — in style, dominating the Hornets from start to finish.
Early in the first quarter, a Delaware State player was driving down the left lane toward the basket when senior forward Jillian Dunston appeared out of nowhere for a huge block. The ball went flying and the sound echoed throughout Crisler. This strong defensive play by Dunston created an early spark for the Wolverines, who settled in soon after.
Michigan started to cruise past the Hornets. After hustling down the court around seven minutes into the game, junior guard Nicole Munger had the ball in the corner and lobbed a nice pass to junior center Hallie Thome, who was wide open down low. Thome scored, making it look too easy for the Wolverines.
Near the end of the quarter, freshman guard Deja Church attacked the basket from the left side when she was fouled. She still made the layup, though, and converted the free-throw as well for a three-point play. Everything was going well for the Wolverines, and they led 25-14 at the end of the quarter.
Then it got ugly — for Delaware State, that is. Michigan got off to a 17-0 run in the second quarter and could not be stopped. The Wolverines were playing with tons of energy and excelled in all areas.
Michigan had absolutely no hesitation on offense, and thrived when transitioning. Every time the Wolverines got possession they would push the tempo, and the Hornets simply could not keep up. Michigan had great ball movement, especially around the arc. This created open shots and more space around the glass. The defense held Delaware to just four points in the second quarter and led 50-18 at halftime. It was the most dominant the Wolverines had looked all season.
“We did a great job,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “We did a great job of pushing and moving the ball and making extra passes. It was awesome.”
And then Michigan turned it up a notch in the third quarter. The defense allowed just four points once again while the offense stayed hot. Senior guard Katelynn Flaherty and Thome powered the offensive effort, finishing with 22 and 18 points respectively. Freshman forward Hailey Brown, sophomore forward Kayla Robbins and Munger all scored in the double digits as well. It was a full team effort.
“We’re a different team than we were last year,” Barnes Arico said. “We’re more defensive this year, so this was the first time we really got our offense going in that direction and it was all 10 players that contributed to that.”
As the clock winded down in the third quarter, sophomore guard Akienreh Johnson drained a shot near half-court to put the cherry on top. This secured an 82-22 lead which allowed the Wolverines to share playing time in the fourth quarter with the bench.
“It was fun to have an opportunity for everyone to contribute and everyone to have a part in tonight’s win,” Barnes Arico said. “They were excited. … The enthusiasm was tremendous. I think that’s a sign of things to come from this team.”