Michigan coach Kevin Borseth was supposed to bring the answers to the Michigan women’s basketball team, but it took senior center Ta’Shia Walker to lead the Wolverines to a season-opening win.
Walker led the Wolverines with 17 points and was a catalyst for Michigan’s effort in the second half, when she scored 13 of her points, in Michigan’s 67-55 win over Akron Saturday at Crisler Arena.
The senior opened the period with eight of Michigan’s first nine points. Walker started down low on the opening with a lay-up over the Akron defense.
“She is extremely smart, and she’s crafty,” Borseth said. “She gets in the right spots especially in the post area. She plays tough.”
Walker went 8-for-19 and picked up nine rebounds, six of them offensive. Although she had just one assist, it was one of her better plays. After getting the ball down low, Walker kicked it out to a wide-open Carly Benson who drained a 3-pointer to extend Michigan’s lead to 59-46.
Walker isn’t very flashy and is short for her position – she’s a 6-foot center – but she carried the offensive load in the second half, and was there for Michigan at the end of the game when Akron went on a run.
Akron cut the Michigan lead to 10 when the Zips’ Keyla Snowden dropped in four straight 3-pointers with 3:22 remaining in the second half. Akron then scored four more fast-break points to cut the deficit to six.
“They went right down the gut,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “They went right down the middle of the lane. It’s frustrating for me, frustrating for them and frustrating for you to have to watch it.”
But Walker added a much-needed lay-up for Michigan to end the scoring drought and junior Stephany Skrba – who had nine points and 10 rebounds – added another basket, icing the game for Michigan.
But Walker was just happy her team won.
“It doesn’t matter who scores the points, or who gets the rebounds,” Walker said. “As long as we get the points and get the rebounds and steals as a team.”
The Wolverines played much better in the second half than the first, when they attempted 13 3-pointers.
“In the first half, we just bombed them, a lot of them were out of rhythm,” Borseth said.
Michigan will also have to improve its transition defense. Akron burned the Wolverine defense throughout the game, getting several easy lay-ups that kept them in the game much longer than they should have been.
But for the first game of the season, the Wolverines were pleased with their performance. Michigan gained confidence from the win, which it will need when the Wolverines travel to Cincinnati on Tuesday.
“(The game) helped us to see our progress what we’ve gone through in practice,” Skrba said.