A sea of Maize and Blue lined the court after the Michigan women’s basketball team came away with its 63-61 victory against Indiana on Sunday.
It was the sight of hundreds of fans waiting in line to receive autographs from the victorious Wolverines. But the crowd of 1,703 did not just make its presence felt after the game; it seemed to lift Michigan through it.
“They appreciate (us) and gave us a lot of energy,” Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett said. “We’d do something hustle-wise, and they’d really try to help us through the next possession, which at home that means a lot to us.”
One instance of the crowd’s strong support came midway through the second half, starting when Michigan freshman Jessica Starling nailed a 3-pointer to knot the game at 46. Soon after, Wolverine freshman Krista Clement hit freshman Ta’Shia Walker down low, and Walker quickly put the ball in for two, giving Michigan a 48-46 lead. The two scores caused the fans in Crisler Arena to explode into cheers as Indiana coach Kathi Bennett called a timeout.
“The crowd was really awesome,” sophomore Kelly Helvey said. “I hope that carries on every game. I really enjoy getting the crowd into games. That’s one of my favorite things to do. When everyone’s cheering, that gets a smile on our faces, and we take pride in that.”
Officially bad: Not only did Michigan beat Indiana, it managed to overcome some questionable officiating as well.
With a little over two minutes remaining in the first half, Indiana sophomore Jamey Chapman committed what seemed to be an obvious traveling violation on her way to scoring two points. The refs thought otherwise, and the no-call appeared to upset Burnett, who ran down the sideline while motioning for a traveling to be called with her hands.
Later in the game, with under two minutes to go, a similar play transpired when Hoosier junior Angela Hawkins appeared to travel underneath the basket, and nothing was called. Hawkins was then fouled and sent to the line with the score tied at 58. Hawkins hit one of the shots from the line to give the Hoosiers the lead.
Although visibly displeased with the officiating during the game, Burnett declined comment on specific calls afterwards, citing the possibility of a fine.
Familiar foes: Burnett and Bennett have coached against each other many times — usually ending in the same result, a Burnett victory.
With the Michigan win, Burnett claims her 10th victory in 14 games against Bennett and her third in four tries while coaching the Wolverines.
The two have faced off since their days in the Missouri Valley Conference. Burnett’s Southwest Missouri State squad took on Bennett’s Evansville team 10 times during a five-year span. Southwest Missouri State emerged with the win eight times.
“I respect her so much, probably because there aren’t many coaches that have taken a team like Southwest Missouri State to the Final Four — twice,” Bennett said. “She’s one of the best coaches in the women’s game.”
Notes: Tabitha Pool dished two assists, giving her 196 for her career and moving her to 20th place on the all-time Michigan leaderboard … On 16 attempts, the Wolverines hit just three 3-pointers … Michigan’s 12 turnovers was its second lowest total this season … The victory gives the Wolverines their sixth straight home win against the Hoosiers.