Michigan coach Kevin Borseth has been looking for a dynamic scorer for his team ever since he arrived in Ann Arbor last year.
His search might be over.
Freshman guard Courtney Boylan racked up 18 points on seven shots and went 4-4 from 3-point range in her first college game, a 70-60 win at Kentucky on Saturday. It was an impressive individual performance, but Boylan credited her teammates with her strong debut.
“A lot of it had to do with my teammates penetrating to the basket,” she said. “I was left open on the outside, and I just knocked down the shots.”
Playing down her accomplishment was the theme of the night, and Michigan coach Kevin Borseth got in on the act.
“She kind of gave us a lift, hit some open shots,” he said. “We have got to be able to shoot, and she’s one kid that can do it.”
As she did in Michigan’s exhibition against Northwood a week earlier, Boylan came off the bench and played significant minutes — 25 at Kentucky.
Except for Boylan’s 18, Michigan’s scoring was quite balanced. Senior forward Melinda Queen, junior center Krista Phillips and senior point guard Jessica Minnfield each tallied double-digits.
The scoring load may have been shared, but it didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Michigan had just six assists the whole game, something Borseth seemed concerned about.
“You get assists when you’re distributing the ball and you’re creating for each other,” Borseth said. “And that’s a statistic we obviously pay a whole lot of attention to.”
Defensively, Michigan was concerned with stopping the Wildcat slashers from penetrating and getting baskets in the paint.
On Saturday, Phillips stood in the way of any Kentucky player who tried to drive the lane. The 6-foot-6 Phillips blocked six shots, while junior forward Stephanie Skrba contributed two rejections of her own.
“That’s where they do all their damage, right in that lane,” Borseth said. “It’s good to have a big kid down there, and those two came up pretty big.”
Though Michigan’s interior players were in position to block shots, they couldn’t manage to collect many offensive rebounds. The Wolverines had just five second-chance baskets, compared to 19 for Kentucky.
Borseth said his players were very tentative on the glass.
The Wildcats (0-1) were led by sophomore Victoria Dunlap’s 19 points and 10 rebounds, but the rest of the team struggled. No other Kentucky player scored more than eight points.
A lot of that had to do with Michigan stepping up defensively, forcing 21 Kentucky turnovers and holding the Wildcats to a 32 percent shooting clip for the game. The Wolverines fared much better from the field, shooting exactly 50 percent.
The Wolverines (1-0) travel to Ohio to play Akron (1-0) tonight. Last year, they beat the Zips handily behind departed senior Ta’Shia Walker’s 17 points.
And while the Wolverines may have lost Walker, it looks like they may have gained a new scorer in Boylan.