With about 12 minutes remaining in the Michigan women’s basketball team’s 78-52 blowout win over Syracuse in the WNIT quarterfinal, freshman guard Dayeesha Hollins dove on a ball fumbled by an Orange player.
After Hollins wrestled with a Syracuse player and came out with possession, she dished the ball to freshman guard Jenny Ryan from her back. Ryan and the Wolverines now had a four-on-one.
Ryan passed it to sophomore forward Carmen Reynolds, who fed the ball to a wide-open Veronica Hicks under the basket. The junior guard drained the layup, scoring two of her 24 points before being fouled. She made it a 3-point play after she cashed in on the freebie from the charity stripe.
Hollins’s ferocious fight for the ball and Michigan’s ability to share the wealth were key to the Wolverines’ obliteration of Syracuse on Sunday at Crisler Arena.
“I knew that we had to come out with energy,” Hollins said. “I knew that with Syracuse we had to think of conversions. It was really easy for me to get back on defense. It was a fast-paced game and that’s what I’m used to.”
Michigan’s first points came from Reynolds. She sunk a tripple from the wing to spark what became a 21-7 Wolverine run. She went on to score 20 points in the first half, and scored a career-high 26 points in Sunday’s contest.
“I never have started like this,” Reynolds said. “It is probably because of the well devised plan that we had off of the bat. We knew that they were going to come at us in the zone and we knew how to execute it. We just had people at the perimeter, and we passed it in and we passed it out.”
As the first half began to dwindle down, Ryan and Reynolds made back-to-back 3-pointers from about five feet beyond the arc, in the same spot. Both came with the shot clock at one second.
“I was just really surprised that I got so many looks.” Reynolds said. “Like I said it’s because of the well-devised plan we had offensively. When the shot clock is winding down someone has to take it. It’s good I was able to step up.”
In fact, it looked like the Wolverines could never be stopped. They dominated the first half in every aspect. Michigan forced 13 turnovers and shot 56 percent from behind the arc. And the Wolverines outrebounded the Orange 16-11.
Syracuse just couldn’t climb out of the massive deficit in the second half. The Wolverines’ shooting cooled down but they still seemed to score every time that the Orange rallied.
“I told the kids that it will take the last 10 minutes to win this game,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said.
The Wolverines really did put those last 10 minutes together. They finished by taking out their five starters, something that is not expected nor likely in a WNIT quarterfinal matchup.
The Wolverines advance to the WNIT semifinal where they will play Miami on Wednesday at Crisler Arena. This is Michigan’s first time playing five games at home in the WNIT.
As Hicks left the press conference she tilted her head back and looked up. “Thank you lord,” she screamed. “Final four.”