GRAND RAPIDS After a confidence-building win against Penn State on Friday, the Michigan women”s basketball team (10-6 Big Ten, 18-11 overall) came crashing down Saturday by falling to runner-up and No. 1-seed Purdue 74-55 in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Wolverines got to within 13 of the Boilermakers with just under five minutes remaining, but were unable to get any closer as LeeAnn Bies fouled out just seconds later, leaving forward Raina Goodlow alone down low. Freshman Jennifer Smith left the gamer earlier with an ankle injury.
Purdue”s stifling defense took care of the rest of the Wolverines.
“They did a really nice job and they were very, very aggressive (on defense),” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “They made it very difficult for us to get our shots.”
The Boilermakers pressured the Wolverines up and down the floor for the entire game, forcing 16 turnovers many of which were due to miss-timed passes in transition. Purdue also held Michigan to season-lows with six in both offensive rebounds and assists.
In addition, the rebounding margin of 13 was Michigan”s second worst of the season. Its worst came at home against the Boilermakers on Dec. 30 with a difference of 18.
“We needed to box out and that is something we didn”t do well today,” Goodlow said.
Purdue essentially put Michigan out of the game in the first half. The Wolverines were up by one when the Boilermakers went on a 24-to-8 run in the final 10 minutes to end the half. Leading scorer and Big Ten Player of the Year Katie Douglas scored seven points in just 1:30 before the break. Douglas finished with 14 in the half and 18 for the game.
“She does a good job of lulling you into a false perception that you are doing a good job on her (defensively),” Guevara said.
Douglas was helped by center Camille Cooper, who scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, 12 of which came in the first half.
“She never brings it down (below her shoulders) and she has such long arms it is almost impossible to block her shot,” Goodlow said. “Once she gets it, it is almost a guaranteed two points.”
This isn”t the first time Cooper has taken advantage of the Wolverines” defense. She scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the teams” last meeting on Feb. 4.
“It seems to me like we always have trouble stopping (Cooper),” Goodlow said.
Goodlow led Michigan in scoring for the second-consecutive game with 16.
On Friday, the Wolverines defeated No. 19 Penn State for the third time this season, 66-60.
“I think this was an upset it was the third time we upset them this season,” Guevara said about beating the perennially ranked Lady Lions. “I know (Penn State) coach (Rene) Portland made a statement saying that since we beat them twice, they were the underdogs, but I”m thinking, “No, I don”t think so.” ”
Much like she did just one week earlier against Penn State, senior Anne Thorius put the game away with a late 3-pointer.
Goodlow starred again for the Wolverines as she got her second career double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Michigan also got some unexpected help from Stephanie Gandy, who made 6-of-9 shots for 12 points.
Gandy said she has been working on her jump shot since most teams play her for the drive. Her newfound long-range shooting caught Penn State off-guard.
“We tried something different (defensively) and Gandy really came out of nowhere,” Portland said. “We came in with Bies as a focus, but we let some other people get away.”
Bies scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Nittany Lions on Feb. 25.