BLOOMINGTON – Michigan’s road woes have been the
story of its season. And in a must-win game last night in
Bloomington, the plot was no different.

Beth Dykstra
Indiana center George Leach takes it inside against Michigan center Courtney Sims. Leach was a major factor inside, blocking seven shots. (AP PHOTO)

The Wolverines struggled to capitalize on opportunities late in
the game en route to a 61-56 loss to Indiana at Assembly Hall. The
defeat dropped Michigan (7-8 Big Ten, 16-10 overall) to just 1-6 on
the road this season in conference play and all but ensured that
Michigan will not earn an at-large bid come Selection Sunday.

The Wolverines will, most likely, need to win the Big Ten
Tournament next week in Indianapolis to receive a berth in the NCAA
Tournament.

“It’s real tough,” Michigan freshman Courtney
Sims said. “We planned to win these two road
games.”

Michigan had its chances down the stretch, but failed to
capitalize. With just over a minute left and the Wolverines down
58-56, senior Bernard Robinson stepped on the baseline while
driving to the basket and turned the ball over to Indiana.

On the ensuing possession, Indiana guard Marshall Strickland
missed a jumper, but he and Hoosier guard Bracey Wright out-battled
several Wolverines in the paint. The loose ball was knocked back to
Indiana’s Donald Perry near midcourt, and Michigan
immediately had to foul.

Perry hit one of two free throws to put Indiana up by three.
Michigan then had two chances in the final 30 seconds to tie the
game, but sophomore Daniel Horton and senior Bernard Robinson both
missed desperation 3-pointers in the final minute.

“It felt good when it left my hand, but it just
didn’t go down,” Horton said of his attempt to tie the
game in the final minute.

“I thought it was going in, but it hit the back of the
rim.”

Robinson struggled all night for Michigan, hitting on just
1-for-9 from the floor for two points, nearly 11 below his season
average. Robinson’s numbers were down all across the board,
as he grabbed a mere three rebounds, dished out one assist and had
no steals.

“It was one of those nights where you’re just
off,” Robinson said. “I didn’t necessarily want
to stop shooting — if I had a shot I was going to take it. (I
tried to) play my same game.”

Sims and guard Lester Abram led the Wolverines with 13 points
and seven rebounds apiece. Horton connected on 4-for-7 from behind
the arc for his 12 points, but was scoreless in the game’s
last 15 minutes.

Abram scored just two points in the second half after
accumulating 11 in the first stanza.

Michigan allowed Indiana (7-8, 13-13) to shoot 8-for-15 from
3-point range. And the Wolverines committed several ill-timed,
non-shooting fouls in the game’s final few minutes, allowing
the Hoosiers extended time at the charity stripe.

“We put them on the line late, with the shot clock running
down,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “They
didn’t have to make a basket. They made free throws
(instead).”

Amaker hasn’t beaten Indiana in his five attempts as coach
at Michigan, and last night may have been his best chance yet.
Michigan had won three of its last four games heading into
Bloomington, while Indiana had dropped seven of eight, including
its last four straight at home.

The Wolverines’ next game will come on Saturday against
Northwestern, and Michigan will look to improve its seeding for the
Big Ten Tournament.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *