On Sunday, Villanova coach Harry Peretta predicted that the Michigan women’s basketball team would need 10 3-pointers to topple Stanford in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament.
Though by the end of Tuesday’s lopsided defeat, it wasn’t the Wolverines who fulfilled Peretta’s ambitious quota.
The Cardinal buried 12 3-pointers and shot 48-percent from behind the arc en route to a 73-40 victory over Michigan. If it wasn’t already a tall order for the eighth-seeded Wolverines to upset a top-seeded Stanford squad at home, it didn’t help that the Cardinal shot nearly 54-percent from the floor.
“I don’t think Stanford had been shooting the ball from the outside that well prior to tonight,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “They just came out on fire.”
Not only was Stanford on fire, but the Wolverines struggled to find any consistency against the stifling Cardinal defense.
Senior guard Jenny Ryan agreed with Peretta’s prediction, and gave the Wolverines a glimpse of hope in the opening minutes after exchanging three-pointers with the Cardinal. But soon after, the scoring exchange clearly became a one-sided affair.
Michigan simply couldn’t find the bottom of the net for the remainder of the contest, recording a dismal 29.2 percent shooting performance. In a game where the Wolverines desperately needed to be efficient from behind the arc, they made only three of 16 attempts.
If Michigan had any chance at accomplishing such a monumental upset, it would’ve come from the sharpshooting of their leading scorer, senior guard Kate Thompson. Thompson, who barely eclipsed the 1,000-career point mark in her final game, hit only one of 11 attempts from the field while failing to bury a single long-range jumper.
In preparation for Stanford, the Wolverines were adamant about containing the Cardinal’s elite center, Chiney Oguwmike. Michigan publicly admitted their game plan would force Stanford’s outside shooting, not Ogwumike, to lead the Cardinal to the Sweet 16.
And the Cardinal would make them pay.
Stanford forward Joslyn Tinkle was red hot from the perimeter, nailing all five of her 3-point attempts during a 21-point performance. As the Wolverines eliminated any post-game in their zone defense, the Cardinal continued to drain the ball from beyond the arc.
“Credit to them for shooting the way they did,” said senior forward Rachel Sheffer. “We tried to take away their post. We had pretty good success doing that, but they just kept hitting shot after shot.”
If there was any question as to why Stanford deserved a top seed in the Spokane region, its shooting performance against Michigan added yet another facet to the already dangerous squad. The Wolverines’ chances of upsetting one of the best teams in the nation were already slim, but it’s nearly impossible to beat any team that shoots lights-out from attempts that might have counted on an NBA court.
“I don’t think we really recognized what kind of range that they had on their jump shots,” Barnes Arico said. “They weren’t just threes, they were pretty far back behind the line. I don’t know if we’ve had to come out on that many shooters that deep all year long.”