IOWA CITY – The Michigan women’s basketball team looked helpless during the final 30 seconds of yesterday’s game at Iowa.
Although Michigan was still in the game, trailing by three, the Wolverines failed to foul to stop the clock. The mental error cost Michigan a chance to tie and the Wolverines eventually lost, 66-61, to the Hawkeyes Sunday at Carver Hawkeye Arena.
The game wouldn’t have been that close if Iowa senior forward Johanna Solverson hadn’t carried the Hawkeyes on her back. She carried, lugged and hauled her team to a victory.
Michigan helped her cause, too. The Wolverines committed 18 turnovers in addition to falling apart defensively in the waning minutes.
“As poorly as we played we still could have won that game down the stretch,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said.
Before the matchup, Michigan and Iowa were part of a five-team logjam tied for second place in the Big Ten.
Michigan forward Carly Benson did her best to make sure the Wolverines didn’t drop in the standings, but her 22 points weren’t enough to rescue Michigan from the “Solverson Show.”
The 6-foot-2 redshirt senior, who chipped in just three points when Michigan beat Iowa in December, scored a season-high 28 points yesterday. It was her best game since her return from two knee injuries that cost her the last two seasons.
“I’ve been working really hard,” Solverson said. “This game just put me right up where I want to be and hopefully, it continues.”
Michigan tried to prepare for Solverson’s dominance, but its efforts came up short.
“We definitely knew she was a shooter coming in,” Benson said. “Her size was a difficult matchup for us.”
Michigan (5-4 Big Ten, 12-7 overall) led 10-4 after five minutes, led by Benson’s seven points.
And then the show began.
Over the next six minutes, Solverson rallied for 15 points. She hit three 3-pointers during the stretch and single handedly kept Iowa (6-3, 13-7) in the game.
Michigan relied on its sharp three-point shooting to counter its sloppy play in the first half. The Wolverines gave up 11 turnovers.
The Wolverines went into the locker room up 27-26, unaware that another Iowa player was about to have a “Solverson-like” performance.
At the beginning of the second half, Iowa forward Wendy Ausdemore stepped up.
The Big Ten’s best 3-point shooter scored 11 of the Hawkeyes’ first 16 points, including three from behind the arc.
To add insult to injury, Solverson wasn’t finished.
In the final 5:44, Solverson scored 10 points by hitting six shots from the charity stripe and beating the lackluster Michigan defense to the rim on layups.
Despite a disappointing ending, Benson proved, once again, she can take control when needed.
After scoring seven points in the first five minutes, Benson was quiet the rest of the half. She started the second half as she did the first, scoring Michigan’s first eight points on an array of shots. But instead of letting up, Benson stayed aggressive and kept the Wolverines in the game.
Solverson’s hot hands dropped Michigan to sixth in the Big Ten standings and gave the Wolverines their fourth loss in eight games.