The Michigan women’s basketball team struggled to make shots in their match-up with Mississippi State, so they found another way to win. In the Wolverines’ win over the Bulldogs, and on their way to finishing the Daytona Beach Invitational 2-0, rebounding was the key.
Opening up the game in the first quarter, Michigan shot just 29% from the floor. With multiple regular scorers picking up early fouls and open looks not falling, the Wolverines’ rebounding opened a new path for scoring.
Michigan’s rebounding led to multiple opportunities for second-chance points on the offensive end. In the first quarter, the Wolverines went a combined 6-for-20 from the floor but still managed to end the first quarter with the lead — due to 10 second-chance points from offensive rebounds.
“Going into this game we knew we would have opportunities to get (offensive rebounds),” senior wing Leigha Brown said. “Especially at the beginning of the game, Mississippi State got a lot of transition points. So just trying to find the fine line of being able to crash the boards but also getting back in transition was huge. Being able to get some (offensive rebounds) and put-backs was huge tonight.”
Leading the rebounding was senior forward Naz Hillmon with 10. On a relatively quiet night for the Wolverines’ offense, with the exception of senior wing Leigha Brown’s 23 points, Hillmon’s rebounding helped keep the ball out of the Bulldogs’ hands.
The Wolverines added another seven second-chance points in the second half. With similar issues on the offensive end as the first half, second-chance points were a necessary addition to the offense.
Defensively, Michigan finished the night with 32 defensive rebounds, compared to Mississippi State’s 23. Forcing the Bulldogs to settle for pull-up jumpers and grabbing the rebounds kept Mississippi State’s second-chance points to a minimum.
“I thought we gave a great effort on the glass,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “We really talked about our rebounding and that we really thought that we could really rebound against them. And I thought we did an exceptional job. Certainly was a difference maker. We crushed them on the glass and that was important. That was one of our goals.”
Senior forward Emily Kiser also contributed on the boards, grabbing six rebounds. Junior guard Michelle Sidor and Brown both notched five rebounds.
With Brown still battling back from her leg injury and senior guard Amy Dilk out with a leg injury, Michigan’s offense is not at full capacity. Especially when shots aren’t falling from the perimeter, the Wolverines have to rely on their defensive efforts to generate points. Michigan’s emphasis on doing the little things continued to prove beneficial against Mississippi State.