Courtney Boylan had the game of her career on Friday.
The senior guard scored a career-high 21 points and posted a team-high seven rebounds en route to a 69-66 season-opening win for the Michigan women’s basketball team over Florida.
With 27 seconds left, Boylan hit a layup and was fouled to put the Wolverines up by four. She sunk the free throw and iced the game for Michigan.
Even though Boylan had almost a third of the Wolverines’ points, the rest of the team had key roles in the win. Senior forward Carmen Reynolds and junior forward Rachel Sheffer both scored in double figures, posting 15 and 13 points, respectively. Junior guard Jenny Ryan and freshman guard Nicole Elmblad both came up big on the boards, combining for 13 rebounds and helping the Wolverines outrebound the Gators 42-36.
“That was a big surprise,” Reynolds said. “Coach told us to outrebound them because we know they’re the leading rebounding team in the Southeastern Conference, and we did that.”
Though the Wolverines looked better on the stat sheet, the game was close the entire way. Michigan’s largest lead was six points, and there were 29 lead changes.
Michigan (1-0 overall) shot 49 percent from the field and hit a couple of key shots near the end of the game to pull out a victory on the road.
“We knew at the beginning of the game it would be possession-by-possession,” said Michigan coach Kevin Borseth. “I think these guys did a great job of being strong when they had to.”
The Wolverines’ biggest strength was their presence in the paint, led by Sheffer, Reynolds and Elmblad. Michigan racked up an impressive 32 points down low, compared to Florida’s 18.
Reynolds said the team’s penetration in the lane, in addition to its post game, was what contributed to the huge numbers in the paint. Boylan agreed and said she believes that the presence in the paint will really help them during the Big Ten season.
“(Getting the ball in the paint) was a huge focus of the game,” Reynolds said. “Get it into Sheffer, get it into whatever player is crashing into the paint, and being able to do that was key.
“As coach always says, ‘whenever you get into the paint, big things happen.’ So that was huge for today’s game.”
With Florida forced to stop Michigan’s post game, the Wolverines were able to shoot from outside, hitting 47 percent of their 3-pointers. Junior forward Kate Thompson and Reynolds hit key 3-pointers down the stretch to give the lead back to the Wolverines before Boylan converted the three-point play to seal the game.
Though the Wolverines played an all-around solid game, they weren’t without faults. Michigan committed 18 turnovers, which led to 15 Florida points. Boylan said taking care of the ball is something the team needs to continue to work on.
Boylan also believes the Wolverine defense could’ve been better throughout the game, but she’s confident that it’s something the team will keep improving.
“It is a big win for us,” Boylan said. “It’s really important to remember that we’re obviously taking it one game at a time, but it’s always nice to be 1-0 and get that first win.
“It’s a great confidence booster knowing we can go on the road, play an SEC team, and have the game be close and come out with a win.”