As Michigan shook hands with the Ohio State players and gathered at center court after a 77-66 loss last night, the players didn”t look angry or upset they looked shocked.
With just seven players dressed to play, Ohio State dropped Michigan to 1-4 in conference play. Michigan has now lost four of its last five games after starting the season 10-1 and ranked No. 12 in the nation.
“I”ve never had a team do this in the five-and-a-half years that I”ve been here,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “To just crash, it”s like the stock market, we just crashed.”
Michigan led 62-59 with 4:12 remaining in the game, but Ohio State freshman Ashley Allen hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game to tie the score and start an 18-4 run to end the game. The Buckeyes had nine 3-pointers in all, and shot 60-percent from behind the arc in the second half.
Jennifer Smith brought Michigan to within six points with a minute left to play, but the Wolverines did not score again.
Neither Ohio State nor Michigan could build a substantial lead in the first half. Michigan never led by more than five points and Ohio State”s biggest lead was 7-4 in the opening minutes of the game. The game was tied, 34-34, going into the break.
After an Alayne Ingram 3-pointer to start the second half, Ohio State went on a 12-3 run to lead 46-40 with 17:41 remaining. The run ended on a long distance 3-pointer by Allen, who was starting the fourth game of her career because Tomeka Brown sprained her MCL last Sunday against Northwestern.
Michigan, led by three straight field goals from Gandy, regained a two-point lead, 57-55, with 7:19 remaining.
Guevara said that Michigan”s biggest problem is simply “passing and catching,” as evidenced by Michigan”s 17 turnovers 12 of which Guevara thought were unforced. Alayne Ingram, who led the team with 19 points, also finished with a team-high six turnovers. But this statistic is misleading. On two separate occasions, she threw perfect passes to LeeAnn Bies and Tabitha Pool under the basket. But both dropped the ball, resulting in turnovers.
Guevara described Gandy and guard Susana Jara as “silver-linings” in last night”s game. Gandy finished with 16 points and five rebounds while Jara only had one turnover in 19 minutes at point guard.
Besides these two, Guevara questioned the passion of her team after the players were unable to execute the team”s game-plan, offensively or defensively. Guevara was especially upset that the Wolverines allowed Ohio State to hit nine 3-pointers just after allowing Wisconsin to hit a school record 11 triples on Sunday.
“If I could get into somebody”s chest and just squeeze their heart just a little bit, to play with some fire,” a hoarse Guevara said. “Maybe it is me because I don”t have my voice and I can”t get them jazzed, can”t get them fired up.”
Bies, the team leader in points per game and rebounding, had just five points and seven rebounds and looked fatigued during the game. Last Sunday, she had 27 points and 13 rebounds against Wisconsin.