- Patrick Barron/Daily
By Shannon Lynch, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 26, 2014
In its first game of the season, the Michigan women’s basketball team was handed a rough loss in the Iona Tournament by Bowling Green, 63-52. At the time, the Wolverines were considered to be in a transition year, by both the media and Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico.
The defeat could have set a trend for future losses this season, but instead, it has served as motivation for the Wolverines to prove everyone wrong. And now, after winning two straight postseason games, Michigan is ready to show the Falcons what it has learned since November in the third round of the WNIT on Thursday night at the Stroh Center.
“We definitely have a bad taste in our mouth, and we want revenge,” said freshman guard Siera Thompson. “We’re going to be really focused and ready — ready to play.”
The Wolverines have plowed through the initial rounds of the tournament, recording their 20th win of the season over Duquesne on Monday. The defensive performance from junior forward Cyesha Goree helped limit the Dukes to just 28-percent shooting from the floor during the first half.
A key to Michigan’s success this year has been the cultivation of the idea that good defense wins games, something Barnes Arico and her staff have preached since day one.
“If you start demanding it and expecting it, the kids definitely are capable of doing it, and if they see that it really makes a difference in the game, they buy into it,” Barnes Arico said. “They have really stepped up in the second half of the season and done a great job in that area.”
Focusing on defense and strong rebounding will be no less important against the Falcons. They boast a lineup of three double-digit scorers, led by guard Erica Donovan — she scored 22 points in Bowling Green’s latest WNIT victory — and forward Alexis Rogers.
The Falcons finished first in the Mid-American Conference, stand at 29-4, and they haven’t lost a home game all season. On the other hand, Michigan spent the season performing at its best on the road, going 9-2 in away games.
“It will be interesting to see how we respond to being in that environment, in a place where they’ve always been successful,” Barnes Arico said. “We have got to put a full game together on Thursday night to be successful.”
The Wolverines will most likely break a few more records in their pursuit of a victory over the Falcons. Goree is just two rebounds short of tying Michigan’s single-season record of 311. In addition, Michigan needs just 10 more points to tie the school record for points scored in a season.
Even this late in the year, the Wolverines have a lot left to prove. To pull out a win over a team that handed them their first loss of the season would only make advancing that much sweeter.