After returning home from its road game against Penn State last
Sunday, the Michigan women’s basketball team said goodbye to
its toughest stretch of the season. In the last two-and-a-half
weeks, the team has been on the losing side of contests against
Purdue, Michigan State and Penn State — all top-25 teams.

With three games remaining in the regular season, Michigan (4-9
Big Ten, 11-15 overall) now has an opportunity for salvation. Next
week, the Wolverines play Northwestern and Minnesota at home.

Michigan’s first win during conference play was over
Northwestern. After losing to the Golden Gophers by 20 points in
January, Michigan looks to redeem itself.

But the Wolverines’ opportunity for three solid wins
starts tonight when they travel to Bloomington to take on Indiana.
Although Michigan has not performed well on the road this season
— it has won just two road games during conference play
— Indiana (3-10, 10-14) is a squad the Wolverines know they
can beat.

Just five weeks ago, Michigan edged out the Hoosiers for a close
65-59 win at Crisler.

“I think we’re more confident because we know we can
beat that team,” junior point guard Sierra Hauser-Price said.
“(But) they’re out to prove to their home court, that
they can win … I’m sure they’re looking for

Just two weeks ago, Michigan defeated Wisconsin for the second
time this season, proving that it is capable of cleanly sweeping a

However, Michigan has not had much success on the road.
Tonight’s contest could easily resemble Michigan’s last
game against Illinois. When Michigan traveled to Champaign, the
Wolverines let the Fighting Illini — who then sat at No. 10
in the Big Ten standings — get away in the second half,
resulting in a 16- point loss.

Not only is Michigan traveling to another Assembly Hall tonight
(this time in Bloomington), but it is also facing a team which
needs a win just as much as Illinois did at that point in its

The Hoosiers have lost seven consecutive games, including four
at home.

“Indiana has a lot of similarities philosophically to what
we’re trying to do,” Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett
said. “One of the things about Indiana, which I hope people
will also say about us is, that Indiana is such a hard-working
defensive team.”

Like Michigan, Indiana plays man-to-man defense. But with most
teams in the Big Ten playing a zone, Burnett admitted that her team
is now having to “reprogram to (again) play against a
strictly man defense.”

The Indiana squad is led by double-digit scorers Jenny DeMuth
(18.2) and Cyndi Valentin (15.1). The young team, which includes
five freshmen and five sophomores, is, like Michigan, struggling to
climb in the Big Ten standings.

Burnett is aware that a positive outcome in tonight’s game
would be a crucial first step to finishing conference play on a
high note.

“With the three games that we have left, we definitely
think that it’s a possibility that we could win all
three,” Burnett said. “We have played much better at
home, which makes the Indiana game extremely important.”

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