DETROIT In its season opening game on Friday night against No. 6 Louisiana Tech, Michigan had no answer for All-America candidate, center Ayana Walker. Walker scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The 17th-ranked Wolverines turned the ball over 25 times and fell behind by as much as 19 points (65-46) in the second half.
Yesterday against Detroit (0-1), the Wolverines turned to its own star in the paint to turn things around. Junior center LeeAnn Bies went 10-11 from the free throw line en route to her game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Despite another 25 turnovers and an abysmal shooting performance that resulted in a 28.6 percent field goal clip in the first half, the Wolverines held off the Titans” upset attempt for a 67-52 win. The win included a school record-tying 30 free throws made by Michigan.
When the dust settled on the weekend, the Wolverines had notched their first win but also had determined that they were a long way from playing to their full potential.
“I”m going to hope that this was due to jet lag and having two games in three days,” Bies said. “I”m going to hope that”s what it is because we”re a better team than this.
“It was very important to get a win. We”re 1-1 and hopefully we can get on a little streak here even though it”s an ugly win, it”s still a win and we”re going to take it.”
Bies was one of the lone bright spots in the loss to Louisiana Tech with 23 points and seven rebounds. She was also forced to carry the struggling Wolverines through the majority of the game against Detroit as well.
With 12:22 remaining in the second half against Detroit, Bies had scored 19 of Michigan”s 34 points in the game.
“We knew she was going to be tough,” Detroit guard Molly Peterman said. “She”s strong inside and we knew that we weren”t really going to stop her but we were going to do what we could to contain her. Obviously she came up big for them.”
The Wolverines appeared to have their minds still in Louisiana early against Detroit. The Titans pulled ahead 12-2 before Michigan responded.
“I think the fact that we played Louisiana Tech Friday night, got up at 5:00 Saturday morning, practiced Saturday and came out today at 4:00, I think that”s why we started so slow It”s still not an excuse,” Guevara said. “Anytime you have two games, and you have 25 turnovers each game, that”s not progress.”
A 10-0 run by the Wolverines tied the game, and the two teams went back and forth from that point.
The game began to swing in Michigan”s favor midway through the second half. Freshman Tabitha Pool, who had turned the ball over four times in five minutes to begin the game, hit a jumper with 11:15 to go.
After Michigan”s 20th turnover led to a layup by Detroit”s Randee Henri and a 37-36 lead for the Titans, Pool proceeded to score 11 points in the next five minutes, as Michigan ran off a 19-8 run to grab a 53-43 lead that it would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Pool finished with 15 points.
Friday”s game against Louisiana Tech was almost an exact opposite of the Wolverines” win over Detroit. Michigan came out and held the lead for the majority of the first half, leading 30-25 at one point.
But the Lady Techsters came back and took a 41-35 lead into halftime, before putting the Wolverines away in the second half.
Against Detroit, it was the Wolverines who were able to shake off some early game rust. Despite the struggle, Michigan had enough to prevent Detroit from sending the nationally-ranked Wolverines to an 0-2 start.
“We were hoping that they”d be tired and maybe even underestimate us a little bit,” Peterman said. “We knew we were going to have to play real good to compete and to win and we fell short at a stretch we just didn”t convert enough to overcome Pool and Bies.”