For the third time this season, the Michigan women’s basketball team is “0-0.”
After yesterday’s 68-56 loss to Wisconsin, the Wolverines dropped their third straight and wrapped up the first half of the Big Ten season 2-6. According to Michigan coach Sue Guevara, it’s time to begin a new season – again. Michigan began its first “new” season after dropping the first two games of the Big Ten season.
“Let’s start over,” Guevara said. “(We won’t) focus on 2-6, but focus on 0-0 and let’s make a change (for the second half).”
Wisconsin (4-5 Big Ten, 6-14 overall) was on fire all over the court, shooting 54 percent from the floor and 64 percent from behind the arc. Michigan had no answer for the hot hand of Badgers’ guard Lello Gebisa, who finished with 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting. For its part, Michigan (2-6, 11-8) could only shoot a dismal 37 percent from the floor and 27 percent from 3-point range. For the second straight game, hot perimeter shooting from their opponents killed the Wolverines.
“We just struggled scoring from the perimeter,” Guevara said. “It came down to being able to stop them from scoring (and we didn’t).”
Freshman Niki Reams was one of the exceptions, scoring 15 points and dishing out four assists. The other exception was junior forward Jennifer Smith, who controlled the post, dropping 18, including two 3-pointers.
While Smith continued to be the go-to player in the post late in the game, senior center LeeAnn Bies was absent from the lineup, as Michigan attempted to rally from a double-digit deficit in the second half. Bies, who has come off the bench in four straight games, was picked as a preseason All-Big Ten selection and was thought to be one of the best post players in the conference. Guevara indicated that Bies – who finished with four points and six boards in 21 minutes – was out of the lineup due to the fact that she wanted to run the floor.
“I had to go with quickness,” Guevara said. “To have two big kids in when we’re down 13 points and we’re pressing isn’t going to get it done.”
Two of the bright spots in this game were Michigan’s ability to dominate the offensive glass – pulling down 14 rebounds – and finishing with more assists (17) than turnovers (14).
On Thursday in East Lansing, there were no bright spots, and Michigan dropped its first game to the Spartans since 1999. The 73-56 loss was capped by a seven-minute scoring drought to end the game after sophomore forward Tabitha Pool hit a trey to pull the Wolverines to 58-56. Michigan State (5-2, 12-6) used the same formula as Wisconsin, killing Michigan from the perimeter. Michigan State guard Syreeta Bromfield shot 5-of-9 from downtown and finished with 25 points. Michigan’s guards couldn’t answer one of her shots, as all three of them went a combined 0-6 from behind the arc.
The combination of outside shooting and denying Michigan of its bread-and-butter high-low offense took any chance of a comeback.
“I thought they did a nice job of defending us inside,” Guevara said. “We couldn’t hit the outside jumper, and unfortunately we paid for it.”