Happy Valley? Not so much.
The Michigan women’s basketball team fought to the buzzer against Penn State at the Bryce-Jordan Center last night. Two free throws from freshman guard Dayeesha Hollins gave Michigan a second chance, tying the game at 57 and sending the Wolverines into their first overtime this season.
But Michigan came up short in the extra frame, losing 71-65.
The Wolverines (6-9 Big Ten, 15-10 overall) have lost seven games this season by four points or less, and it looked like last night was going to be their eighth, until Hollins tied the game up with 20 seconds remaining.
The Nittany Lions failed to answer when they took the ball down the court, missing a 3-pointer and a shot in the paint before they put back an offensive rebound – but not fast enough. The ball left Penn State forward Marisa Wolfe hands just after the buzzer went off.
But even with that second life in overtime, the Wolverines couldn’t make the plays when it mattered most – a familiar story for Michigan this year.
The Wolverines shot 28 percent from the field, which put a bit of a kink in Michigan’s quest for a sweep over Penn State (8-8, 16-10). Even so, the Wolverines managed to stay in the game with late contributions from freshmen Kate Thompson and Jenny Ryan – finally bringing some stability to an inconsistent Michigan offense.
“Sooner or later, we are going to get fed up with it,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “I hope they get fed up with it. I really do. I hope they get to the point where they say enough is enough. Because we had good looks against Michigan State, we had good looks tonight against the zone. I think we played hard, we played with a lot of heart (and) we did a really good job. But it’s really hard for defenses just to shut people out and not let them score at all.”
Sophomore forward Carmen Reynolds was a bright spot early on, scoring six of the team’s first nine points. Junior guard Veronica Hicks got hot in the second half, scoring seven points in the Wolverines 9-0 run that tied up the game with fifteen minutes remaining.
And Hollins scored four from the charity stripe to keep Michigan in it late in the game.
Still, Michigan couldn’t make enough crucial plays down the stretch. Michigan shot below 30 percent for the second consecutive game.
“I don’t know if we’re playing games to win offensively,” Borseth said. “I think we are just moving the ball for the sake of moving it, and nobody really wants the thing. I don’t think we are confident enough offensively at all. You can’t beat anybody unless you play to win offensively.”
Partway through overtime, senior center Krista Phillips, whose 11 rebounds led the team, fouled out. Hollins and Hicks (the game’s high scorer) also picked up their fifth and final fouls in overtime.
The Wolverines never found their shot in those five minutes – all four of their points came on free throws – and they couldn’t keep the ball when it mattered most.
“Honestly, I think we made too many mistakes down the stretch,” Reynolds said. “We weren’t valuing the ball and weren’t able to hit key shots and get the stops. So I think it was just all together, focus and composure, that we weren’t able to be assertive when the other team scored.”