YPSILANTI, Mich.— The Michigan women’s basketball team went into the WNIT as a clear favorite after narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines finished third in the Big Ten, their best regular-season finish in 10 years and were expected to compete with anyone. Even though Michigan would not have a single home game because of renovations to Crisler arena, it still had high expectations.

But just like that, the tournament — and the season — is over for the Wolverines.

Michigan (10-6 Big Ten, 17-13 overall) took a short seven-mile bus ride to Ypsilanti and was upset in the first round of the WNIT by Eastern Michigan, 67-59 on Thursday.

Sophomore forward Rachel Sheffer led the team with 20 points, but after a while, the continuous beating she and the rest of the Wolverine post players received started to take a toll. The Eagles (10-6 MAC, 23-12 overall) played a tough, physical game and didn’t allow any easy buckets down low.

“We got outplayed. In physical games we don’t do very well,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said after the game. “They came out and came after us, and they ‘out physicalled’ us tonight.”

The staple of the Wolverines’ offense is making 3-point shots that are set up from working into the post. But even when the double and triple teams down low left perimeter shots open, the Wolverines were not able to capitalize. Michigan shot just 19 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, including 15 percent in the second half against the Eagles.

“We just have to be good with the ball, and all-in-all it’s about putting it into the hole, and that’s the bottom line,” senior guard Veronica Hicks said. “We were getting good looks and they had to go in.”

The key to Eastern Michigan’s game plan is forcing turnovers. The Eagles were able to do just that against the Wolverines, forcing 19 turnovers. And down the stretch when Michigan desperately needed a bucket, the Eagles forced a couple key turnovers, sealing the game.

Eastern Michigan also scored 14 points in transition, often taking the momentum back from Michigan right after it scored a big bucket. Before tonight, the Wolverines talked a lot about sticking to what it’s good at, but the Eagles were able to control the tempo and control the game.

“When the game is fast and physical, we just didn’t do very well this year,” Borseth said. “And that’s how this game is played.”

Michigan played solid defense on the perimeter, forcing a lot of bad shots. It’s interior play wasn’t as good, allowing a lot of easy buckets underneath. The Wolverines defense deteriorated as the game went on, as the Eagles’ physical style of play began wear Michigan down. As open shot after open shot failed to go in for Michigan, the offense’s ineffectiveness began to affect the defense.

“We had some really good looks and just couldn’t buy a basket,” Borseth said. “Around the hole, from the outside, I mean, you have to be able to make baskets. Sooner or later your defense is going to cave in.”

Whether it was the Eagles physicality, Michigan not being able to hit a shot or the Eagles’ green uniforms giving them an extra lucky spark on Saint Patrick’s Day, it put a disappointing damper on a Wolverines season — a season that started off with great promise. Michigan will be forced to watch the rest of the tournament from home, and Hicks — the emotional backbone of the Wolverines — will never put on a Michigan jersey again.

“Right now it’s just very emotional,” Borseth said. “It’s very just, sick. I don’t know what the word is for it … I just don’t think we played well.”

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