The games couldn’t have been more different.
But for the Michigan women’s basketball team, it could’ve been much worse.
The Wolverines (4-1) finished third this weekend in Vanderbilt’s Thanksgiving Tournament, with a 67-43 loss to Iowa State Friday and a 80-43 victory over Belmont yesterday.
Junior Jessica Minnfield led Michigan against Belmont with 18 points, shooting 6-for-9 from the floor. But Minnfield had a poor game against the Cyclones, tallying no points and three rebounds. Michigan coach Kevin Borseth believed her improved play was the big difference between the two results.
“She got engaged a little bit better in the offense,” Borseth said. “That allowed her to take some better shots.”
Minnfield was not the only Wolverine to rebound from Michigan’s defeat. Junior forward Carly Benson bounced back from a one-point performance on Friday to score 11 against Belmont.
“We had more rhythm,” Borseth said. “We did screens very well, which was something we spent a little time on (Saturday). That was the difference offensively.”
The Wolverines began the game slowly, perhaps because of the Friday loss. But they quickly pounced upon poor Bruin shooting and took command of the game with a 19-0 first-half run, giving them a 38-14 halftime lead.
Michigan continued to step on the gas after the break, sustaining its first-half intensity and expanding the lead to 39 at one point.
Perhaps the most telling statistical difference between the two games was Michigan’s shooting percentage. The Wolverines shot nearly 50 percent from the court yesterday, but was just 35 percent from the field on Friday.
Borseth tried to explain the difference between the two games following yesterday’s win.
“The level of competition was the biggest difference,” Borseth said. “Iowa State is a Big 12 team with a lot of talent.”
That talent hurt the Wolverines on Friday. Iowa State’s Allison Lacey dominated Michigan by herself with 35 points, 27 of which came from behind the arc.
“She was really good overall,” Michigan center Krista Phillips said. “She was really hot from the three point line. We tried to ice her but we weren’t able to stop her.”
Phillips played well off the bench for the Wolverines, leading Michigan with 21 points in 27 minutes.
But despite Phillips’s presence down low, the Cyclones outrebounded the Wolverines 37-27.
Iowa State exploded to an early 22-1 lead, which spelt doom for the Wolverines. It was Phillips off the bench, whose basket started a 14-3 run Michigan that offered the Wolverines a glimmer of hope.
But the Cyclones shut the door on the comeback attempt and took a 17-point advantage at halftime for Michigan’s first loss of the season.
Following the Wolverines’ poor performance against Iowa State, Borseth was concerned how a Michigan team that has struggled over the years would play against Belmont.
“I had a lot of anxiety before the game,” Borseth said. “Coming off the loss I didn’t know how we would respond.”
Michigan’s commanding win yesterday will likely put those thoughts to rest, for now.