- Paul Sherman/Daily
By Matt Spelich, Daily Sports Writer
Published January 31, 2012
The Michigan women’s basketball team put the pressure on Wisconsin late in the second half but fell short in the Monday evening match-up.
After a tough first half, the Wolverines found themselves trailing by 10, only to have the Badgers widen their lead to 16 in the first nine minutes of the second half. When all hope seemed lost, Michigan dug deep and clawed out a 16-0 run for five straight minutes, tying the game at 47. The two teams battled and tied twice, but the comeback effort was not enough to put the Wolverines over the top.
The Badgers went on to upset Michigan, 66-60.
Junior center Rachel Sheffer led the offensive charge with 20 points — 15 of which came in the second half. Sheffer believes she was capitalizing on Wisconsin’s shooter-centric defense.
“They really keyed in on our shooters on the outside,” Sheffer said. “And so when my teammates gave it to me on the block, I went at them.”
Senior guard Courtney Boylan and junior guard Kate Thompson each played a significant role in the comeback with 11 points apiece, but the first-half deficit proved too massive to overcome.
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth was clearly disappointed with his players' inability to take advantage of their open looks.
“We were getting 'pig' shots,” Borseth said. “It was like we were getting kicked around during a game of 'pig' out there. Just wide-open shots, and we weren’t making them. Luckily, our defense was playing really well in the first half and we kept them away from the basket, but we were unable to score.”
If there is a silver lining to the first half, it would be holding the Badgers (4-5 Big Ten, 8-15 overall) to 26 points, but Michigan was not going to dwell on it. The Wolverines (5-4, 16-6) came out in the second half pushing even harder on the defensive end with a full court press to get Wisconsin out of their comfort zone. Borseth believes the step-up on defense may have been the best thing for his offense.
“In the second half we started to run a press and get up on them a little more,” Borseth said. “We were able to turn the ball over a couple of times and get them to miss some shots and then we went down and finally made a couple of our own. It’s like we finally found the confidence that we were missing in the first.”
The loss brings Michigan’s conference record to 5-4, a less-than-desirable outcome. However, Borseth looks at the situation a little differently.
“We got seven games left in the Big Ten, and the way I look at it, our record’s 0-0,” Borseth said. “We’re planning to have a big start against Northwestern on Thursday. The game is over and tomorrow is an opportunity for us to go out and get better. This loss is not sitting well in anyone’s stomach and so we are looking to come out and redeem ourselves.”
NOTES: In the second half, senior guard Carmen Reynolds set the program record for career 3-pointers with 183. Reynolds was previously tied atop the list with Alayne Ingram (1998-2002). This record comes after she surpassed 1,000 career points in the Dec. 30 game against Illinois.