Goree nears record after dominant performance

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By Max Cohen, Daily Sports Editor
Published March 24, 2014

Cyesha Goree acted like it didn’t matter. Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico didn’t even know.

After the Michigan women’s basketball team dispatched Duquesne, 68-52, in the second round of the WNIT, Goree was just two rebounds shy of tying the single-season program record. After recording 11 boards in the Wolverine victory, the junior forward has amassed 309, two fewer than Trish Andrew’s 311 in 1993.

When Michigan heads to Bowling Green for its third-round game Thursday night, Goree will undoubtedly break the record.

“No way,” Barnes Arico said in disbelief.

Added Goree: “I really haven’t focused on that. But it’s just hard work. I work really hard, I set myself up to work hard in the preseason. It’s really nice that I’m close to achieving a goal that I never knew was really there.”

Goree never knew the goal was there before this season because she had more rebounds Monday than she had in her freshman and sophomore years combined. Last season, she had four boards to go along with just two in her freshman campaign. In other words, she has 303 more total rebounds this season — with games still to be played — than she has had in the rest of her career.

Against the Dukes, Goree played the way she has for the vast majority of this season, controlling the glass and playing a stabilizing role for the Wolverine offense.

In the first eight minutes of the game, foul trouble was the only thing that could stop Goree. Duquesne’s interior defenders weren’t doing the job; Goree recorded six points and seven rebounds before being pulled with two fouls with 11:53 left in the first half.

“I thought she couldn’t be stopped,” Barnes Arico said. “If Cyesha’s playing like that, giving us an inside presence like that, it’s tough to guard us.”

Goree weaved her way to the basket whenever she touched the ball, moving in circles around her defenders and seemingly getting to the rim effortlessly. Once she got there, she didn’t miss. Goree went 6-for-6 from the floor in the first half.

As the game progressed, Michigan increasingly looked to get the ball to Goree inside. Though the defenders gave her less room, it didn’t matter. With just under 13 minutes left in the game, Goree had back-to-back possessions in which she caught the ball inside, maneuvered around her defender, made the layup and drew a foul. On both occasions, she drained her free throw, and on the second trip to the line, she extended Michigan’s lead to a game high of 31.

Goree started 8-for-8 from the field and didn’t miss a field goal until she was double-teamed late in the shot clock with 7:11 left in the game. The misfire didn’t halt her momentum for long. The forward finished 10-for-12 from the floor.

With the game long ago a blowout, Goree retreated to the bench with three minutes left, eliciting the loudest applause of the night. Once the final horn sounded, the entire team waved goodbye to the crowd because it may have been its last game at Crisler Center this season. Afterward, Goree led the team into the tunnel, slapping hands with everyone in her way, a fitting end to a night in which she scored 24 points to go with her 11 rebounds.

Despite her obvious success, she continued to downplay her performance.

“It’s just all about being focused and checking in, that’s all,” Goree said.

Goree still has one more place to check herself into during her next game, whether she acts excited about it or not: the record book.