Dani Wohl played his heart out.
Amadou Ba played — much to the crowd’s pleasure — and scored.
Dion Harris and Ron Coleman were lava.
And when it was over, a huge rush of warm air flowed from Crisler Arena last night.
Michigan exhaled for the first time in over a month — a 63-48 victory over Penn State.
“It’s been a while since we could celebrate in the locker room — to sing The Victors,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “And our kids, they earned it. I thought they deserved it.”
With the win, Michigan (4-10 Big Ten, 13-15 overall) snapped a 10-game losing streak — it’s longest skid since the 1981-82 season. Penn State (1-12, 7-19) lost its eighth consecutive game.
“We are excited,” guard Sherrod Harrell said. “We got a win. That was a monkey we were trying to fight off our back, and we finally got one. So we feel really good about it.”
Guard Dion Harris played his best game of the year, shooting 10-for-15 from the floor and tying a career-high with 24 points. Harris hit from all over the court — deep 3-pointers, runners in the lane and short tear-drops. He also dished out six assists, including a self-called play — off an inbounds pass — to Brent Petway for an alley-oop.
“You can’t say enough about what Dion did.” Amaker said. “The rhythm he was in was terrific. He carried our team. Dion’s play was the difference in the game.”
Guard Ron Coleman, who added 16 points and grabbed five boards, knocked down four 3-pointers in the first half, giving Michigan a 36-26 lead at intermission. Coleman credited his production to Harris.
“He drew a lot of attention,” Coleman said. “By him driving and kicking it out to me, I knocked down the open shots.”
The Wolverines were able to limit Penn State forward Aaron Johnson to six first-half points, mostly by denying the Nittany Lions any interior passing.
On the final possession before the half, Wohl — who had six steals in the game — penetrated into the Nittany Lions’ interior and lobbed a perfectly placed shot — err, pass — to Petway, who finished the play on the fly right before the halftime buzzer sounded. It was an opportunistic assist for Wohl, who signed more autographs than usual for fans after the game.
“I thought Dani played a real big part (of the victory),” injured wing Lester Abram said. “He pressured the ball on defense, and that’s where it started, with our defense. And carried over throughout the whole game.”
Said Harris: “Dani’s play was big for us. He pressured the ball. He harassed the other team’s point guard and came up with some steals. He made plays on the offensive end also.”
Michigan built upon its 10-point halftime lead by limiting Penn State guard Danny Morrissey to just one second-half basket, after the guard scored 11 in the first.
The Wolverines also maintained lots of on-the-ball pressure on the Nittany Lion guards and limited Penn State — the best offensive rebounding team in the Big Ten — to 28 total rebounds.
Amaker said he never discussed the possibility of Michigan tying a school record for consecutive losses (11) with his team before the game.
“(The win) was huge,” Wohl said. “We needed (a win) in the worst way, in any way possible. Hopefully, we can build off this.”
Despite the two teams’ combined 17-game losing streak coming into the game, it was the Wolverines, not the Nittany Lions, who played with pride.