COLUMBUS, Ohio – Michigan wasn’t just holding on against conference-leading Ohio State.
The Wolverines played neck-and-neck against the sixth-ranked Buckeyes in Columbus, trailing by no more than two points for most of the game, before a 7-5 Buckeye run in the last four minutes handed Michigan its third straight Big Ten loss, 59-56.
With seconds left on the game clock, the Buckeyes knocked down a missed opportunity for the Wolverines and extended Ohio State’s winning streak to eight straight games and a 46-6 all time record against Michigan. The last 13 victories in the rivalry belong to Ohio State.
“It wasn’t like we threw it away,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “We had opportunities. We just didn’t make baskets and they did. Courtney almost hit the last shot she was on track but she missed it.”
Ohio State (16-1, 4-0 Big Ten) leads the conference with Michigan pulling up the back end of the Big Ten, but that wasn’t clear by the team’s performance. There were 15 lead changes and 12 ties en route to Ohio State’s three-point victory. While they led Michigan in rebounds and free-throw percentage, the Wolverines shot better than the Buckeyes by 10 percent.
“I thought we played well,” Borseth said. “We had to. They are obviously very good. We did a lot better job in the second half taking care of the ball. The first half we were a little flippant with it, but I think we played hard the whole game. Down the stretch we gave ourselves a chance to win which is what we want to be able to do.”
Before today’s game, the Wolverines hadn’t come within single digits against the Buckeyes since the 2003-2004 season, and they haven’t defeated the Buckeyes since 2000-2001.
But a reenergized team was enough to end that streak.
After a quick 8-0 run by Michigan (9-5, 2-2 Big Ten) in the first two minutes at Value City Arena, the Buckeyes came back and the two teams were tied or separated by no more than one field goal until the 36 minute mark when Ohio pulled ahead for the win.
The Wolverines are still looking for a way to win in the Big Ten as they get deeper into the throngs of conference play. They hope to utilize home-court advantage on Thursday against conference foe Iowa, who they narrowly beat on the Hawkeye’s home court last month.
“We have to find a way to win,” Reynolds said. “That’s our focus, that’s always been our focus. We have to find a way to get it done. We are not going to be satisfied with just losing by three to the best team in the big ten. We got to keep working hard and keep trying to find a way to win that’s what we need to do.”