When scouting the Michigan women’s basketball team, coaches often look at the roster and see a team that relies heavily on its bench, a possible sign of inexperience.

As Michigan was facing at an eight-point deficit with four minutes remaining, Cal.-Santa Barbara coach Mark French saw the Wolverines slowly losing control of the game.

“As they started to turn the ball over and our pressure was picking up, we went up by eight and I was thinking ‘They’re just about to crack,'” French said. “It would have been very understandable; they’re young (players). But they didn’t – they hung in there and they did what they needed to do.”

As it turned out, Michigan coach Sue Guevara stuck with the same lineup, which included two bench players, in crunch time and pulled out a 70-64 win against the 25th-ranked Gauchos.

In both of its games this season, Michigan (0-0 Big Ten, 2-0 overall) has relied on its bench for key performances in the game’s final minutes. Specifically, Guevara has relied on freshman guard Lauren Andrews and junior forward Stephanie Gandy.

In Monday’s game, Gandy hit a 3-pointer to cut into the Santa Barbara lead with less than three minutes to go. Although Gandy has seen her share of action in recent years, Guevara likes her role coming off the bench and being the emotional leader on the team.

“We have (Gandy) coming off the bench who gives us that emotional energy and she gets us going,” Guevara said. “We need to get that experienced depth and it’s a good boost for our team.”

With the game tied at 64 in the final minutes, Andrews calmly hit two free throws to put the Wolverines ahead for the first time in the second half. Although Andrews was only playing in her second game, Guevara wasn’t concerned about her remaining on the floor, as well as the rest of her young lineup.

“I thought they did a really nice job of maintaining their composure and (I) didn’t see them panic,” Guevara said.

Michigan will look to the bench as the Wolverines gear up for Massachusetts and Detroit over the long weekend. When playing numerous games in a short period, Guevara is confident in her team’s ability to look down the bench as see all her players ready to contribute.

“It’s really a great feeling to know we have people on the bench that are going to contribute,” Guevara said. “We have people come in off the bench that make a very big difference, and that’s what we need.”

This weekend

Crisler arena

Who: Michigan (2-0) vs. Massachusetts (2-0) and Detroit (0-2)
When: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Latest: The Wolverines will conclude their season-opening, four-game homestand before heading to the Xavier Invitational on Dec. 7.

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