It didn’t matter if Michigan women’s basketball coach Kevin Borseth had the brains against Big Ten-leading Indiana last night.
Because Indiana had the Braun — Jamie Braun, that is.
The junior point guard’s playmaking ability helped the Hoosiers hand Michigan a 60-50 loss at Crisler Arena. She notched 16 points and registered four assists as the Wolverines (2-6 Big Ten, 9-10 overall) dropped their fourth straight game.
“She’s a WNBA player,” Borseth said. “She can just make plays on her own. You put the best point guard in the conference on the floor (with their post players), and that’s a pretty doggone good team.”
But it wasn’t just Braun and her athleticism that cemented the Wolverines’ four-game losing streak, the longest for Borseth since December 2003 when he coached at Wisconsin-Green Bay.
After six of its first seven home games, Michigan has dropped its last two games at home, dismantling a hometown confidence that was a huge push in early season victories against ranked teams like Vanderbilt and Notre Dame.
And with six straight losses away from Ann Arbor, upcoming road games against middle-of-the-road Big Ten teams like Iowa and Northwestern could mean the difference between an NIT berth and a long offseason.
Offensively, the Wolverines’ reliance on the 3-point shot looked like it was working in their favor as they shot 40 percent from behind the arc. But the Wolverines’ 14 first-half turnovers gave the Hoosiers (7-1, 14-3) all the momentum they needed to secure the lead for the game’s entirety.
Michigan didn’t die by the 3-pointer, but it couldn’t live by it either.
Borseth attributed the impressive downtown shooting to their attempted inside presence, which had been invisible in the team’s last three losses.
“That’s what it’s supposed to look like,” Borseth said. “That’s what it needs to look like. When we got it inside (in the second half), we were able to score points.”
Although Michigan did manage to get the ball inside, it made just seven baskets in the paint.
Earlier in the season, senior forward Stephany Skrba provided Michigan with the scoring it needed down low. The Wolverines are 5-1 when the Toronto native finishes in double digits.
Skrba was held scoreless against the Hoosiers.
The rest of the Wolverine post players were outmatched in the paint, even with their height advantage. The Hoosiers dominated the offensive boards 17-6.
Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack set a double-team on the Wolverines’ biggest post presence, junior center Krista Phillips, who came off the bench in hopes of exploiting the Hoosiers lack of size. But Indiana muscled up the Wolverines down low, using the same aggressiveness that Borseth has been preaching to his team all season.
“These people rebound,” Borseth said. “You have no idea how good these kids are on the glass. Have they lost any games? Who beat them?”
Similar to many of its recent losses, Michigan registered just one solid half. But despite the slow start to the game, Borseth said he was proud of the way his team played in the second frame.
“The first half, we just looked lethargic,” Borseth said. “It just builds in a hurry, and when we did stop it, we were too late.”