STATE COLLEGE — For the first time this season, Michigan
forward Tabitha Pool was held scoreless. The junior was 0-for-7
against Penn State, and played just 16 minutes.
Pool didn’t attempt a shot until Michigan trailed 15-3
with 14 minutes remaining in the first half of the game.
“We must have done something to her or she must have done
something to herself,” Penn State coach Rene Portland said.
“Burnett didn’t play her in the second half.”
A month ago, Pool played one of her most complete games of the
season against Penn State at Crisler Arena. She scored 19 points,
grabbed 11 rebounds and had five assists in a 68-56 loss to the
Nittany Lions on Jan. 15.
But this season, Pool has struggled in conference road games.
She averages just eight points-per-game on the road compared to
19.6 points-per-game at home.
Burnett didn’t start Pool in the second half. She sat on
the bench for 14 of the game’s final 20 minutes.
Pool’s minimal playing time not only hurt the Wolverines
on offense. The power forward is one of Michigan’s best
defensive players. With Pool out of the picture, Penn State exposed
Michigan’s interior defense. They outscored the Wolverines
48-10 in the paint.
Who can score?: Michigan’s 15-point first half was
its second-lowest point total in a half this season.
Trailing by 23 points at halftime, the Wolverines used their
bench for most of the second half. Sophomore Niki Reams scored 10
points in just 16 minutes of action. Reams has come off the bench
lately because of an injured left foot.
Starter Jennifer Smith scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed
10 rebounds in the losing effort. With the exception of Reams,
Smith was the only scoring option that was effective against Penn
State’s zone-to-man defensive transitions.
“It’s frustrating but I never do blame my teammates
for it,” Smith said. “We have a lot of things to work
on. That’s just one of them. We always need to come back
after a loss and get mentally prepared. We just didn’t do
Sold out: Michigan played before a packed house of 15,389
yesterday. The attendance mark set a Bryce Jordan Center record,
and was the first sellout ever for the Lady Lions in the arena.
“As the opposing coach, I just feel badly that we
couldn’t be more competitive in such an incredible
environment,” Burnett said. “It’s an incredible
accomplishment for Penn State.”
Inside the spacious and modern Bryce Jordan Center, the game had
more of a Big Ten Tournament feel than just an average conference
The crowd was the largest the Wolverines have played in front of
since their 67-33 pounding at the hands of Michigan State in the
Breslin Center on Jan. 18.