Six freshmen ran onto the court for Friday’s pregame warmups against Ball State. All six played for the Michigan women’s basketball team, and all recorded at least one point in the team’s 87-67 victory.
The Wolverines got off to a quick start, despite the freshmen being nervous, when junior guard Veronica Hicks sank the team’s first points from the perimeter just two minutes into the game.
Freshman guard Dayeesha Hollins admitted she had butterflies, but she still played a significant role in Michigan’s success. She finished the night with 12 points.
“Oh my goodness, I was so nervous,” Hollins said. “My hands were sweating and I was shaking and I don’t know why. I didn’t want my emotions to start getting to me, I wanted to cry.”
By the game’s end, however, the Wolverines had to have been feeling confident. Michigan built up a 20-point lead before halftime.
Three-pointers: Shots beyond the perimeter alone put 42 points on the scoreboard. Michigan got into a shooting rhythm and easily exploited Ball State’s weaknesses.
“We shot the ball extremely well,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “They forced us to shoot it. They jammed the inside up and we had to shoot it from (three) and we did. Carmen (Reynolds) and (Hicks) both had good nights.”
Reynolds, a sophomore guard, had the best night of her career, especially outside the arc. Reynolds had 19 points, 15 of which were field goals.
“Coach emphasizes rhythm shots,” Reynolds said. “If you have a rhythm shot, take it. I got great passes from my teammates and was able to put them in.”
Turnovers: Michigan forced 11 more turnovers than Ball State did (28 total) and was able to capitalize on multiple opportunities.
By the time sophomore guard Courtney Boylan stole the ball late in the first half, the Wolverines’ aggression was significantly higher than Ball State’s.
“If you aren’t hitting shots, you’ve got to get stops, and we have to slow down the ball,” Hicks said. “We can’t let them get as many wide-open shots as they did this game. It’s great that we were able to get some steals. We did a great job of picking the ball up and applying a lot of pressure.”
The defensive stops truly gave Michigan a lot of leeway on offense.
“If you get stops on the defense, then that carries over to the offense,” Reynolds said. “Our focus is on getting stops, and as a team, helping each other out to get those stops. Then, that carries over to offense, and hopefully that rhythm helps us put shots in offensively.”
Calling fouls: The Wolverines recognize the importance of taking shots and drives that aren’t going to go in, just to trigger a defensive foul.
“That’s something that we really, really want to build our program on is getting fouls,” Hicks said. “We want to get fouled, we want to get to the line. That’s something that we are definitely going to keep doing every game. It is a goal of ours to get to that free-throw line.”
But while the Wolverines got plenty of opportunities, they really didn’t capitalize on the foul line. They shot just 11-of-23.
Though the fouls helped Michigan out on the other side of the ball, Boylan and others were able to set their feet and get three charging fouls from the Cardinals.
“That’s definitely key,” Reynolds said. “That’s what we want to do. And hopefully in the future, we can put the ball in the basket from the free-throw line because I know our percentage wasn’t too good tonight.”
Miscellaneous: Borseth played the entire 13-player roster against Ball State, and he is now 3-0 in Michigan season openers. … The win against the Cardinals ended Michigan’s eight-game losing streak. The last game Michigan won was against Big Ten foe Wisconsin in a 70-42 victory last season on Feb. 1.