In Michigan”s 84-75 loss to Minnesota last night, center LeeAnn Bies silenced her critics as she once again proved she can produce big numbers. Bies answered the nay-sayers by posting 15 points and 14 rebounds in an explosive offensive game.
The Wolverines (1-6 Big Ten, 11-7 overall) and Golden Gophers (3-2, 13-3) both brought high-powered offenses to the table last night. Neither team disappointed the fans as each boasted five players who scored in double figures.
While Michigan”s offense thrived for much of the game, its defensive letdown in the middle of the second half cost it the victory. Throughout the first half, Michigan played solid defense, holding Minnesota to just 38 points. This defensive intensity carried over into the beginning of the second half as Minnesota shot just 1-for-7 from the field to open up the second half.
But the sharp-shooting Golden Gophers recovered and took advantage of the Wolverines” lapse when Lindsay Lieser nailed two 3-pointers in a row to give Minnesota a 56-52 lead with 10:16 left in the second half.
“We have the lead and (Lieser) comes down and hits a three and she comes down and hits another one and gets the crowd into it,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said.
Guevara quickly called a timeout to rally her troops and hopefully steal some momentum from surging Minnesota.
“I called a timeout to hopefully stop the bleeding,” Guevara said.
But the Gophers would not be stopped as they went on a 9-0 run which forced Michigan to call another timeout.
Minnesota then held a comfortable 13 point lead, which it would ride to the end.
Stephanie Gandy led all Michigan scorers with 24 points and connected on 4-of-5 shots from behind the arc. She drained two of her four 3-pointers in the waning minutes of the game to try and bring her team back. But her efforts were repeatedly stifled by the Gophers, who always had an answer for Gandy”s shots. That answer usually came in the form of Lindsay Whalen, who buried the Wolverines with 27 points.
“Gandy got the start tonight and she responded,” Guevara said.
After going on a 14-4 run in the final 3:26 of the first half, Michigan had a slight 40-38 edge going into halftime. The run was spearheaded by Heather Oesterle, who scored eight of the 14 points. On the night, Oesterle scored 14 points. Oesterle also made her presence known on the glass as she pulled down eight rebounds.
“Oesterle came off the bench in the first half and she goes 5 for 5 from the floor,” Guevara said.
Michigan did achieve one of its goals by boxing out better. The Wolverines outrebounded the Gophers in all categories including, a 13 to 8 edge in offensive rebounding. But even with the effort Michigan brought to the game, it was not able to steal a victory from Minnesota.
“I can”t fault (the team) for their effort. I think they played hard, I think they played their hearts out,” Guevara said.