Another road game.
The Michigan women’s basketball team suffered its second-straight road defeat last night, falling 61-58 at Michigan State.
Down three points with 7.6 seconds remaining, the Wolverines had a chance to tie. Junior Jessica Minnfield drove through the lane and kicked the ball out to a wide-open Janelle Cooper on the perimeter. But the senior missed in the closing seconds.
“We didn’t even plan (it),” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “We just get it down the court, pitch it to someone and shoot it. . It was a good shot that gave us a chance to tie it.”
Although the Wolverines had a chance at the comeback, it never should have been that close.
With six minutes to play, Michigan led the Spartans by eight, 53-45. But 6-foot-9 Spartan center Alyssa DeHaan chipped away from the charity stripe, making 10 free throws down the stretch to give the Spartans a 59-55 lead with 21 seconds left.
Junior Carly Benson revitalized Michigan’s chances making a three pointer with 10 seconds left.
“We had the lead,” Borseth said. “Granted, they made some shots, especially free throws. They made shots down the stretch and we didn’t.”
Michigan has lost three close Big Ten road games this season: Purdue, Iowa and Michigan State. In each game, Michigan (5-5 Big Ten, 12-8 overall) had a lead in the final minutes only to let it slip away.
“We’ve done that three out of the last four games,” Borseth said. “Our goal before the year was to get in the game, and now we are in it. I have to do a better job of getting them prepared down the stretch.”
Borseth’s frustration was evident during the game. With 4:31 remaining, Borseth called a play using a clipboard and slammed it to the ground, shattering the board into pieces.
The Spartan faithful responded to Borseth’s actions with renewed energy. And Michigan State fed off the momentum. The Spartans (5-6, 13-10) outscored the Wolverines 13-5 to close out the game.
The Wolverine offense was clearly frustrated by Michigan State’s switch from man-to-man to zone defense. The frustration was doubled by the DeHaan’s awakening in the final minutes and the number of free-throw chances given to the Spartans.
Although Michigan was unable to finish, it was able to largely build its lead through the efforts of Stephany Skrba. The shifty junior led the Wolverines in scoring with 16 points off the bench and six rebounds.
Skrba had success driving through the Michigan State defense and getting open down low.
Benson, who led the team in scoring after the first half with 10 points, was shut down by Michigan State and made just the 3-pointer in the final seconds.
“I wasn’t doing a very good job getting open.” Benson said. “Brittany Thomas was guarding me pretty tightly. I was just trying to focus more on screening because of the defensive pressure.”
The Wolverines have become competitive in the Big Ten, but they have been exposed to more pressure situations.
Though Michigan has not pulled out some of these close games away from home, it have learned one thing: It’s tough to play Big Ten basketball on the road.