BLOOMINGTON — Losing on the road has become a pastime for
the Michigan women’s basketball team, and last night’s
65-52 loss at Indiana’s Assembly Hall served to drive that
point home. The Wolverines arrived in Bloomington reeling from two
tough losses to Michigan State and Penn State with the hope of,
perhaps, turning things around. Michigan edged out the Hoosiers at
home back in January, and Indiana’s 3-10 Big Ten mark coming
into the game was one of the few conference records that was worse
than Michigan’s (4-10 Big Ten, 11-16 overall).

At first, it looked as if the Wolverines might have been able to
pull it off. Despite losing Pool to the bench due to early foul
trouble, Michigan managed to take a 17-7 lead, which proved to be
its largest of the game.

Only minutes later, things began to unravel for the
Wolverines.

Powered by junior standout Jenny DeMuth, Indiana (4-10, 11-14)
inched its way back into contention. With about four and a half
minutes remaining in the half, Indiana guard Leah Enterline sank a
clutch shot from outside the arc, which allowed Indiana to take the
lead for the first time since the opening moments of the game. Once
Indiana was ahead, it stayed there for the remainder of the
contest.

“The thing that was the most frustrating was that we had a
game plan coming in to stop the drive,” Michigan coach Cheryl
Burnett said. “And they did the same thing every time in
about every single possession, especially with DeMuth. We’re
saying stop the drive … and it’s frustrating when we
allow them to do the same thing every possession.”

Indiana intensely pressured Michigan’s most consistent
scoring threat, senior Jennifer Smith, under the basket by
thrusting two or three players on her each time she received the
ball.

Although she was hampered in the paint, Smith kept Michigan in
the game with her free-throw shooting. Smith went 11-of-12 from the
charity stripe in the first half, and finished the game
14-of-17.

“It’s unbelievable how hard it is for Jen (Smith) to
score,” Burnett said. “And yet she ended up with 29
points.”

Burnett dipped into the bench to make up for Pool’s
absence and to try to find a combination that could effectively
shut down DeMuth. Unfortunately for Michigan, Indiana’s
hustle and desire to emerge from a deep eight-game losing streak
helped put them on top, 31-24, at the end of the half.

“Even when things weren’t going well, we still
believed, we still knew we were going to get the win,” DeMuth
said. “The thought of losing never really crossed our
minds.”

The second frame brought more of the same, as the gap between
the Wolverines and the Hoosiers widened. The streaky Pool
re-entered the game after sitting out for 17 minutes of the first
half, but she turned in just three points in the second half.

Senior captain Stephanie Gandy provided a bit of a spark when
she cut Indiana’s lead to single digits within the first 10
minutes of the half, and turned in 13 points by the end of the
game. Michigan came within four, but lukewarm shooting plagued the
Wolverines, and Indiana constantly outworked them.

“Add giving up easy layups, not being able to score and
getting out-hustled, and we’re probably lucky to be this
close,” Burnett said.

This particular road loss was certainly not influenced by a
packed arena, as may have been the case at Penn State. Burnett
asserted that it was not the size of the crowd that is causing her
team to flounder when they are not on the familiar floor of Crisler
Arena.

“We haven’t played well on the road at all, except
maybe Wisconsin,” said Burnett, commenting on whether it was
worse to play in front of a large or small crowd. “So flip a
coin.”

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