When you’ve lost to a team by 44 points, it should go without saying that much needs to be revamped to stand a chance in the rematch.

After losing in nearly every facet the first time, the Michigan women’s basketball team is almost guaranteed to have a better showing tonight when it hosts No. 16 Purdue at Crisler Arena.

The change of venue alone could make a world of difference for the Wolverines. More than 8,000 Boilermaker fans packed Mackey Arena during the first meeting between the teams – the biggest crowd Michigan has played in front of all season.

But aside from the home court, figuring out exactly where to start regrouping was a task in itself, according to Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett.

“Analyzing our (previous) game against them, there were obviously a lot of things to work on,” Burnett said. “But the one thing that bothered me is that we gave them a lot of lay-ups and free throws.”

Michigan’s foul issues not only sent Purdue (10-2 Big Ten, 21-5 overall) to the line 31 times, but also indirectly caused the Wolverines (3-9, 10-15) problems on the offensive end, too.

Starting point guard Jessica Minnfield played just 12 minutes because of fouls, and Michigan suffered because of it. The team never recovered from Minnfield’s absence, and the 22 turnovers that resulted marked a season high.

When the Wolverines were able to hold the ball, they shot just 24 percent – a season low at the time.

Purdue forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton factored into Michigan’s shooting woes. She blocked six shots and forced Michigan to try its luck from the perimeter. Shooting from outside worked no better, as the Wolverines hit just 2-of-18 from beyond the arc.

Michigan will try to stay more aware of Wisdom-Hylton’s whereabouts this time, according to sophomore Stephany Skrba.

“We just have to use a lot more pump fakes and watch out for her before we go up with (the shot),” Skrba said.

Burnett has shuffled her team’s lineup numerous times since its Big Ten opener at Purdue, and the Wolverines have seen more success as a result.

Since becoming regulars in the Wolverine rotation, Skrba, along with forwards Carly Benson and LeQuisha Whitfield, have made significant impacts.

Michigan has split its last four games, and the versatile trio has accounted for almost 42 percent (91-of-219 points) of the team’s scoring in those games.

But rewind back to the last matchup between the teams, and Benson, Whitfield and Skrba were all held scoreless (0-for-11).

This time, the trio must use its athleticism against Purdue’s stocky frontcourt to have any chance in tonight’s game.

“I think we’ll be able to match up a lot better this time,” Skrba said. “That’s what’s great about our team; we have very quick forwards, and we can run with anybody.”

But even if the forwards do play well tonight, would it realistically be enough to put Michigan over the top?

Wolverine players shied away from answering the question directly, instead vowing to play hard regardless of the game’s score.

“We just have to play together,” Benson said. “We have to play the whole thing out no matter what happens . even if we’re down.”

Purdue at Michigan
Matchup: Purdue 21-5; Michigan 10-15
When: Tonight, 7 P.M.
Where: Crisler Arena
TV/Radio:
Comcast Local

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