Senior guard Veronica Hicks was about a half-second away from a new career high in points. She banked a deep 3-pointer in the Wolverines’ last possession that didn’t count due to a shot clock violation.

But fortunately for the Michigan women’s basketball team, that was about the only thing that went wrong for Hicks all game.

Hicks scored the Wolverines’ first eight points to bring them out of an early chasm and led them to a 69-59 victory over the Fighting Illini. Coming off a sluggish loss to Penn State, Hicks made sure Michigan didn’t lose its’ third straight game.

She tied a career high with 24 points, including nine from beyond the 3-point arc, while shooting 64 percent from the floor. Hicks also grabbed eight rebounds and four assists and played some of her best defense of the season, nabbing four steals and forcing countless poor Illini shots.

“She played within herself, which was really good,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said after the game. “Obviously, she got things done when she had to.”

It’s an understatement to say Hicks has been vital to Michigan’s success this season. She leads the team in points, with close to 12 per game, as well as rebounds, with just over five per game. In Sunday’s game, though, the Wolverines definitely would have been in trouble without her.

After shooting just 33 percent from the floor against the Nittany Lions, it seemed like Hicks was going to carry the Wolverines on her back against Illinois from the get-go. Play after play, she kept Michigan in the game, and almost single-handedly ensured it had the lead at halftime. She scored 18 of the Wolverines’ 38 first-half points, while no other Michigan player had more than eight.

Hicks is the team’s only senior, and has taken an enormous leadership role for the young squad. With only five games left before the Big Ten tournament, it seems that Hicks is treasuring her final games as a Wolverine.

“When you’re around long enough, your days get numbered,” Borseth said. “Roni (Hicks) is playing like there’s no tomorrow right now, which is really good.”

Hicks’s play overshadowed the struggles of the starting unit, as she scored more than the other four Michigan starters combined. The backcourt tandem of sophomore Jenny Ryan and junior Courtney Boylan combined for one point. And though the frontcourt of junior Carmen Reynolds and sophomore Rachel Sheffer combined for 19 points, they did it on 33-percent shooting. Sophomore forward Kate Thompson had a nice game off the bench, scoring 12 points, but without Hicks, Michigan would have seen a loss.

“You get in the gym and you shoot,” Hicks said. “It’s just coming out here and doing it now on the court.”

Aside from the 3-pointer called off late in the game, Hicks also missed a free throw late in the game that would’ve given her a new career high in points.

“I knew I was close to my career-high,” Hicks said. “I had some opportunities, but I’m just glad to come out with a ‘W.’ ”

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