COLUMBUS – Rebounds were never Michigan’s specialty.
Ranking 10th of 11 Big Ten teams in rebounding margin, the Wolverines had their work cut out for them against Ohio State, the conference’s top-ranked team on the glass.
Making matters worse, coming off a loss to Michigan State Sunday, freshman Jantel Lavender and the Ohio State squad were focused on boxing out and grabbing any loose ball.
The Buckeyes’ determination showed as Lavender and senior Tamarah Riley finished with double-digit rebound totals. Ohio State easily won the rebounding battle, 48-31.
Getting outrebounded isn’t out of the ordinary for Michigan. The Wolverines have been beaten on the boards six times already this season, but have just three losses in those games.
What really mattered was the second-chance opportunities Ohio State got courtesy of its offensive rebounds.
“The problem lied in the last 5 seconds of the shot clock,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “Last 5 seconds, down the lane, shot, miss, rebound, score. That happened so many times in the first half, I don’t remember.”
The Buckeyes scored on all seven offensive rebounds they grabbed in the first half, for a total of 14 points. It was the driving force behind Ohio State’s 16-point halftime lead.
Live by the 3: All season, the Michigan offense has been notorious for shooting 3-pointers. In each of the past 3 contests, the Wolverines shot more than 20. Mostly, it has been working. The team leads the Big Ten with 6.55 3-pointers per game.
But last night, Michigan was limited to just 13 shots from behind the arc.
“That’s the beauty of film,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “We saw what they like to do and I’ve seen them get pretty good at it the last four to five games.”
Foster adjusted his game plan to be more aggressive on the perimeter. With Michigan scoring just one 3-pointer in each half, the strategy clearly paid dividends for the Buckeyes.
But Borseth was reluctant to give credit to the Ohio State defense, instead focusing on his own team’s temerity.
“We didn’t have confidence when we stepped on this court when the game started,” Borseth said. “Were they that much better than us? I don’t know. This is frustrating watching the way we played.”
Diamond in the rough: Bright spots are hard to find in a 24-point loss, but junior Jessica Minnfield’s performance warrants some attention, even in a blowout. Beside scoring a team-high 18 points, the Toledo, Ohio native played a key role in limiting Buckeye guard Marscilla Packer.
Coming into the game averaging nearly 15 points per game, Packer was held to 4-of-14 shooting from the field and just 11 points.
Minnfield drew the primary responsibility of guarding Parker, and immediately made her presence felt. After the Wolverines fell behind by 9-0 early, Minnfield got two steals that sparked her team’s own 8-0 run.
“She’s the only kid who showed up to play,” Borseth said.