It was another typical win for the Michigan women’s basketball team.
The team’s defensive play was outstanding thanks to a high-energy squad that played a full 40 minutes of staunch defense.
And the bench played its normal role, contributing on offense while playing an equally-important role on defense, helping the Wolverines to a 66-48 victory over Indiana (0-7 Big Ten, 5-15 overall).
But the difference in the offense was evident after an abysmal point-scoring effort against Northwestern last Thursday.
Michigan (5-2, 16-4) came out ready to attack, posting a season-high 42 first-half points on 53-percent shooting. Compare that to last Thursday, when it shot just 26.7 percent from the field.
What changed? Good passing against Indiana’s zone defense.
“We really (practiced) their zone,” said junior forward Rachel Sheffer. “Coach figured it out on film, and we were practicing for hours with their zone. We had great passes and found people wide open underneath.”
All night, Sheffer and junior forward Sam Arnold had open looks under the basket and converted their layups. Sheffer posted a game-high 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, and Arnold contributed seven of her own.
In Big Ten play, Sheffer is averaging 14 points per game and has been the biggest factor in Michigan’s post-play. Her effort against Indiana didn’t go unnoticed.
“(Rachel) did a really good job of breaking the defense down,” said senior guard Courtney Boylan. “When she got in the corner, she did a really good job of penetrating the middle, looking for people, or taking a shot when it was open.”
The shots were falling for the rest of the team as well. Ten of the 13 players who got in the game tallied points, and the team shot 43 percent on the day.
Sheffer noted how good ball rotation helped the team get into a rhythm, which in turn boosted its confidence to knock down shots.
The improved production on offense was attributed to great ball protection. The Wolverines committed just nine turnovers, which helped them make the most of their possessions.
“We had a lot of shots around the basket — (which) we made,” said Michigan coach Kevin Borseth. “We didn’t turn it over. When you turn the ball over, it doesn’t do a whole lot of good, (and) when you don’t turn it over, you give yourself a chance.
“That’s what our forte is: to take care of it (and) make sure we give ourselves the best shot.”
Though the Wolverines had a great day offensively, the Hoosiers outrebounded them. Borseth has been stressing rebounding all season, but Indiana’s strength and size advantage helped them pull down 10 more than Michigan.
“(The Hoosiers) had 21 offensive rebounds in this game (and) it (was) a mismatch from a size perspective,” Borseth said. “They’re really big and strong around that hole. They had three big kids banging the boards. That’s an area we’re always going to emphasize.”
Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack was impressed by her team’s rebounding efforts, but knew the game could’ve been closer if the Hoosiers had converted their second-chance opportunities. Indiana shot 29 percent from the field.
Regardless of the underwhelming battle on the boards, Borseth was noticeably happy about his team’s all-around performance, especially on offense.
And in honor of Parents’ Night, most of the reserves saw action, which Borseth said made the win even sweeter.
“Great win, obviously,” Borseth said. “The good part was we took care of (the ball) — that was the best part of the game. We had a lot of energy defensively. I thought we played extremely hard on the defensive end and really smart.”