A team either lives or dies by the 3-point shot.
Recently, the Michigan women’s basketball team has done a lot of living. In their last three games the Wolverines have hit 21-of-49 3-pointers — good for 43 percent.
The hot hand of senior forward Kate Thompson that has led the way for Michigan (5-1) beyond the arc. In her last three games, Thompson has hit 13 3-pointers, including a school-record six against Harvard on Friday.
“If anybody sees Kate shoot the ball, you just think it’s going in,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “(She has) such a beautiful shot (and) I keep telling her she’s one of the best shooters in America.”
This season has marked the first time Thompson has started, and since making her debut she has made her presence known, averaging 15.3 points per game while shooting 52 percent from 3-point range. In addition, Thompson is the first — and only — Wolverine to score 20 points this season.
“So much has to do with your confidence and your teammates finding you at the right time,” Barnes Arico said. “I think we’re really trying to run stuff to her. She (gets) open looks and she’s just knocking them down.”
In Michigan’s game against Utah, its only loss this season, the Wolverines shot 2-for-10 from beyond the arc and Thompson was held to a season-low five points on 33-percent shooting from 3-point range.
“Kate’s shot is important to our offense,” Barnes Arico said. “I’m really happy for her. She works extremely hard and she’s very deserving of (her success).”
JORDAN STEPPING UP: In the last two games, Thompson hasn’t been the only standout player — senior forward Nya Jordan has been critical off the bench. Against Harvard on Friday, Jordan played 21 minutes, had nine points and six rebounds, four of which were offensive.
“Nya Jordan was unbelievable off the bench,” Barnes Arico said. “We were getting hurt with rebounding and she gave us a spark.”
Added Thompson: “We (have gotten) some bench production from Nya and that was key. (By) having that extra person we were able to keep going and outlast (Harvard).”
A shallow bench has been an issue for Michigan, as its seen production from only Jordan, freshman guard Madison Ristovski and senior forward Sam Arnold. In the last few games, the contribution of Jordan has proven invaluable with only an eight-player rotation.
“I just really wanted to stop worrying about my mistakes, and at the end of the day I (decided) I’m just going to push through regardless (of) what happens,” Jordan said. “I was happy (Harvard) kept collapsing in the middle so I could find someone on the ends (or) be ready for the rebound.”
But Jordan didn’t stop there, adding seven points, four rebounds, and four assists in 22 minutes against Boston University on Saturday.
REBOUNDING STILL AN ISSUE: “(Jordan) did a great job getting into the lane and making people move to guard her,” Barnes Arico said. “But (once again) it was her rebounding that was key.”
Rebounds — especially offensive rebounds — have been far and few between for this Wolverine squad and Jordan has helped in that area. In six games this season, Michigan has 43 offensive rebounds, nine of which are Jordan’s.
“Our turnovers and our rebounding,” Barnes Arico said. “That’s been our focus all year. We have to keep working at it.”
In what will prove to be their hardest matchup yet — No. 4 Duke on Wednesday— the Wolverines will not only need help from their bench, but they will need to hit their 3-point shots to beat the Blue Devils.