Women's Basketball

Sophomore forward Naz Hillmon scored 14 of her 26 points in the second half to lead Michigan to a 80-66 win against Penn State on Thursday.

Amy Dilk stood at the top of the 3-point arc one minute into the second half and surveyed her options.

The Michigan women's basketball team used its defense to whether scoring droughts against Michigan State

A minor scoring drought can quickly turn into a disaster or cost a team the game if the defense can’t get stops. And although Michigan State did score 13 points during that drought, the Wolverines’ defense made enough key plays to still emerge ahead at the end of it.

Freshman guard Michelle Sidor has stepped up amid injuries and foul trouble for Michigan.

Standing at the podium in front of TV cameras and a gaggle of reporters, Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant stared emptily into the background. Her team just lost to Michigan, getting swept for the first time since 2015, and Merchant was looking for an answer.

Junior forward Hailey Brown had a large leadership role on the bench in Michigan's win over Michigan State.

With Brown on the floor, Michigan State’s offense struggled to get into a rhythm. It was no coincidence that the Spartans’ two highest scoring quarters were the two that Brown only played three minutes in. Brown’s impact this season has gone unnoticed at times. But despite what the box score or Merchant said on Sunday, her role in the Wolverines’ win — both on the court and from the bench — was unquestionable.

Sophomore guard Amy Dilk led the Wolverines to a win over Michigan State uncharacteristically with her free throws

Amy Dilk, while sinking another free throw, looked over to the bench and smirked. It was her game, her court, her win. The sophomore guard scored nine of the last 10 points for the Michigan women’s basketball team, all from the charity stripe, on her way to lead the Wolverines to a 65-57 victory over Michigan State.

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Three minutes and 32 seconds remained when junior forward Hailey Brown committed an offensive foul — her fifth, ending her night. A minute passed, and senior guard Akienreh Johnson committed her fifth. On the ensuing inbound, Michigan State guard Tory Ozment lost the ball. On the other end, her fellow guard Taryn McCutcheon fouled Michigan sophomore guard Amy Dilk. Dilk made both free throws. In the few minutes of basketball that remained, she made six more, helping the Wolverines escape East Lansing with a 65-57 victory over the Spartans.

Senior guard Akienreh Johnson has had to step up as a leader lately while the Wolverines deal with injuries.

An hour before Wednesday’s game against Illinois, Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico took Akienreh Johnson to the side. The senior guard, after watching her best friend go down with an injury, the emotional leader of the team following suit and the best player on the team battling through her own injuries, had seen her responsibility on the team grow exponentially over the course of the last few weeks.

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The Wolverines just watched Illinois guard Brandi Beasley drive the length of the Crisler Center floor in five seconds, sinking a layup to give the Fighting Illini — the No. 13 team in the Big Ten — a one-point lead entering the break. It was a fitting end to a first half where Illinois shot 56.7 percent, including an electric 8-for-13 from three.

Sophomore center Naz Hillmon played an instrumental part in Michigan's win over Illinois.

Powered by a first quarter in which it shot 11-for-16 from the floor and 6-for-8 from 3-point range, Illinois led the Wolverines for much of the first half. Michigan didn’t take a lead until 44 seconds remaining in the half, but a coast-to-coast layup by Fighting Illini guard Brandi Beasley as time expired put Illinois back on top by one entering halftime.

The Michigan women's basketball team lost to Rutgers, 62-41, on Sunday.

But with the absence of Robbins and Rauch, almost every other player on the roster had to play significantly more minutes than they had before. While many players were able to handle playing more for a while, fatigue clearly hurt Michigan in a 62-41 loss to Rutgers on Sunday.