After 37 minutes, Krista Clement had scored just five points.

Coach Cheryl Burnett gave her the green light to shoot at any open opportunity, and Clement increased the throttle with seven of the team’s final nine points – leading Michigan to a thrilling 65-64 victory over Athletes in Action last night at Crisler Arena.

“I don’t have a lot players in my program earn the green light, but she has it,” Burnett said. “In fact, she sits if she doesn’t shoot.”

Trailing by two with 15.9 seconds left, freshman Jessica Minnfield penetrated the lane and kicked the ball behind her to Clement, who was waiting outside the three-point line. Clement caught and released the ball for the game-winning shot.

“(Burnett) and Minnfield made the call together (in the huddle),” Clement said.

Athletes in Action got the ball with seven seconds remaining, but failed to get a clean shot off and knocked the loose ball out of bounds with 1.9 seconds left, which allowed Michigan to ice the victory.

Clement’s offensive surge started with about two minutes left when she ran a give and go with Minnfield that put Clement’s defender on the ground and freed the sophomore for an open three that gave Michigan a 59-58 advantage.

After each team stalled offensively, Clement was fouled and split a pair of free throws to give Michigan a 60-58 lead.

Michigan pressed after the free throws, and Athletes in Action took advantage of poor rotation by making a layup to tie the score.

On Michigan’s ensuing possession, sophomore Ta’Shia Walker – who scored a team-high 20 points – was fouled as she drove to the baseline. She calmly made both free throws.

After Molly McDowell, who finished with game-high 28 points for the Athletes in Action, knocked a leaning jump-shot off the backboard from about 15 feet away to cut Michigan’s lead to two, Walker missed a lay-up and committed a foul in the scramble for the ball. Athletes in Action scored four unanswered points before Clement’s final shot.

The back and forth nature of the final few minutes reflected the atmosphere of the rest of the game.

Neither team held a lead of more than seven points as they exchanged the lead throughout. Michigan held its largest margin early in the second half when it jumped out to a 36-29 advantage.

Freshman Carly Benson’s putback off Walker’s missed layup early in the second half fed the Wolverine’s momentum. Benson finished the night with 10 points and multiple deflections that lead to Athletes in Action turnovers.

Athletes in Action created a 13-point swing to hold a six point lead at multiple times in the second half. With less than five minutes remaining, Michigan trailed by six and Burnett called a timeout before the Wolverines turned the tide and eventually took the lead with a few seconds remaining.

 

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