Naz Hillmon's impact goes beyond her offense. Becca Mahon/Daily. Buy this photo.

The No. 8 Michigan women’s basketball team has found consistency from the 3-point line in three games since suffering its second loss of the season against Nebraska. 

The reason?

Naz Hillmon.

No, the senior forward hasn’t actually made a 3-pointer this season. But Hillmon’s presence on the floor is the main reason why the Wolverines have seen such dominant success.

It’s no secret that defending Hillmon in the paint is the way to beat Michigan. She averages 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. The Wolverines run their entire offense through Hillmon, and when they’re struggling to score, she’s their go-to.

But, in Michigan’s last three games, 3-point shooting has been the star of the show. After the Wolverines’ second loss of the season to the Cornhuskers — in which they were out-scored in the paint for only the second time this season — it was clear the Wolverines needed to diversify their offense.

“We were settling, not really moving the ball not really getting into rhythm,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico told WTKA after the Nebraska game. “And then once we did we were already down in a little bit of a hole. But then later I thought we got better shots, we just didn’t make them.”

Since that game, the Wolverines have shot a combined 52% from behind the arc — well above their current season average of 34%. Against Maryland, junior forward Maddie Nolan had a career-high 21 points, going 7-for-11 from three.

Senior wing Leigha Brown has also found her groove, settling into her go-to driving jumper in the lane and also knocking down a few timely threes.

“We have one of the best post players in the country in Naz Hillmon,” Barnes Arico said after the Maryland win. “Every night she faces a double team and tonight was another chance for her to face a double team and our guards stepped up and just made play after play.”

Michigan has found the diversification it needed, and it’s brought its play to another level, beating then-No. 8 Maryland. But it’s come at the expense of Hillmon’s typical domination in the paint, as she’s relinquished the role of leading scorer in two of the last three games.

Yet, even if it’s less obvious on the stat sheet, it’s still Hillmon’s presence that has brought the success.

As teams continue to pack the paint against Hillmon, sitting in zone defenses or helping hard off the weakside, it’s given her teammates a chance to take over. When Hillmon’s on the floor, she takes the attention of the opposing team. Everyone has to be conscious of where she is to help off their assignment into a double or triple team.

Still, Hillmon has impacted the game in her own way, molding her role to fit the Wolverines’ needs since they got hot from the 3-point line. Against Maryland, in a key transition three from Nolan, a screen in the paint from Hillmon got Nolan open on the wing. She’s also impacted the game defensively with two blocks and a steal against the Terrapins.

As teams work to figure out schemes to clog the paint and keep the ball out of Hillmon’s hands, Michigan has needed to find other ways to score. Even without the ball, it’s still Hillmon’s presence creating the space for those scorers.

She may not be getting as many paint touches as usual, but Hillmon has opened the space for the 3-point shooting to flourish.

All without actually making a 3-pointer herself.