During a timeout a referee in the Michigan women’s basketball team’s 69-34 victory over Kent State let Wolverine coach Kevin Borseth’s son — sitting courtside — play with the game ball.
That’s exactly what Michigan looked to be doing to the Golden Flashes — letting them play around at Crisler Arena while the Wolverines advanced to the second round of the WNIT to play Toledo.
“This was anyone’s game,” Borseth said. “Especially since ‘the game’ doesn’t know who is going to win.”
Michigan held Kent State to its lowest total points all season on Friday night.
“Defensively we did a great job in the first half,” Borseth said. “That truly set the tone for the second half. We were taking care of it.”
Defensive aggressiveness won the game for the Wolverines. Michigan had 13 steals and forced 22 turnovers.
The Wolverines defense paralyzed the Golden Flashes offensive production and Kent State suffered a 16:35 field-goal scoring drought during the game, their longest such cold streak of the season. They had just 11 points in the first half, another season low.
“They had good looks and they weren’t hitting them,” junior guard Veronica Hicks said. “We had to keep them to one shot and out. We had to push it on them. We knew that if we could give them some type of animosity on the shot, that even if they got it off, we could be ready to rebound. They really like to play off of second-chance opportunities and we cut that down.”
Kent State struggled from the start of the game. Michigan got its first tallies after sophomore guard Carmen Reynolds nailed a 3-pointer. After that, the Wolverines went on a 23-2 first half run, led primarily by Hicks. Hicks scored a game-high 18 points on the evening.
“I like to get out and run,” Hicks said. “I never did track in high school — it seemed injury prone — but I like to get my exercise on the court. I just feel like you get higher percentage shots around the basket, and its higher if you beat everybody to the basket.”
After Michigan started dominating possession, aggression and frustration set in for the Golden Flashes. Michigan freshman guard Jenny Ryan snatched the ball and took off for a breakaway ahead of the pack.
Slightly after Ryan released she was hacked. The layup fell but it was called as an intentional foul on Kent State and sophomore guard Courtney Boylan cashed in both foul shots — in Ryan’s place — to make it a four-point play.
“You can’t really describe some plays,” Ryan said. “But that one happened. And I’m happy with it. … Those things happen in a game. She was probably just trying to be aggressive. I would have done the same thing to be honest. You want to stop the play.”
From there frustration just doomed the Golden Flashes. They hit only one of their 13 three-point attempts in the first stanza, and finished just 21 percent in field-goal shooting all night.
“I think I sensed their frustration a lot,” Reynolds said. “Again, I think that we were giving them a lot of pressure and they weren’t able to get by us a lot.”
With the win, Michigan advances to play Toledo this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The Rockets defeated Pittsburgh in round one of the WNIT 70-58 on Friday night. The Wolverines will host the second round game at Crisler Arena.