Five minutes into the second half of yesterday’s game, the Michigan women’s basketball team cut No. 19 Kansas’ lead to four.
But after rallying from a 17-point halftime deficit, the Wolverines’ surge didn’t equal success. Michigan lost to the Jayhawks 77-66 in Lawrence, Kan., for its first loss of the season.
The Wolverines shot nearly 50 percent from behind the arc in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the defensive mishaps that snapped the team’s three-game win streak.
“Defense is something that helps you win the game,” junior guard Veronica Hicks said. “I think our effort was there, but we made mistakes and they were able to capitalize on them.”
Yesterday’s game in Allen Fieldhouse marked the Wolverines’ first on the road this season. It was also the first meeting between the teams in program history.
The game offered the Wolverines a chance to see what kind of competition they could be up against once Big Ten season begins.,
“I think it put us in a good situation, because the first three games we didn’t face this, where we were coming back from a deficit,” Hicks said. “Losing and coming back, and we had some bright spots in there and that’s all a part of what we are doing. That’s something that we need to do.”
For a team known for its strong defensive ability last season, yesterday’s performance was uncharacteristic. Michigan coach Kevin Borseth knows all too well that half-court basketball is dangerous, but in the past, he has had to worry about a lack of offensive performance, not defensive.
“You’ve got to get early offense because it’s too hard to just play half-court basketball for 40 minutes,” Borseth said after Michigan’s first win of the season against Ball State, in which the Wolverines were impressive on offense. “We tried that for the last two years, and it was hard for us.”
But against Kansas, defense was the problem. The effort was there, but Kansas capitalized on too many Michigan mistakes.
“We were just passing up easy stopping and our defense was not what we expected it to be,” freshman guard Dayeesha Hollins said. “That’s pretty much how we lost.
“We were just having a hard time rotating, and wherever their main scorer was, we just weren’t.”
It was Hollins’s first collegiate away game, and she struggled to call plays above the loud opposing crowd. But Michigan’s comeback effort could be promising for the future. Although they couldn’t stop a 21-11 run by Kansas with less than 15 minutes remaining in the second half, the Wolverines learned from their season’s first deficit.
In addition to struggling defensively, rebounds proved a challenge for the team, with the exception of freshman guard Jenny Ryan’s career-high eight. Redshirt senior Ashley Jones contributed six rebounds.
Michigan has a long road ahead, with seven more away games before they return to Crisler.