BLOOMINGTON How do the Michigan Wolverines respond to their most exciting comeback of the season? With their worst offensive output of the season. After a 52-point second-half effort against No. 25 Iowa this past Thursday, Michigan managed just 51 in the entire game in yesterday”s 73-51 loss at unranked Indiana.
Michigan”s guard play was uncharacteristically unproductive. Starters Anne Thorius and Alayne Ingram were a combined 3-of-15 from the floor, and managed just three assists each. Their teammates in the paint didn”t fare much better. Forwards Raina Goodlow and Stephanie Gandy and center Jen Smith whose 26 points led the way against the Hawkeyes shot a combined 9-of-28 from the floor, and allowed Hoosier All-America candidate Jill Chapman a game-high 23 points.
“Anne Thorius and Alayne Ingram have shot the ball much better in the last couple games,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “They didn”t tonight. I thought that (Indiana guard Heather) Cassady put a tremendous amount of pressure on Anne Thorius tonight, and I think she really tired her out. You looked at Alayne Ingram she couldn”t get a shot off, and then when she did she was off-balance and nothing was going.
“If one player has an off-night, you have other people who can compensate. When seven people have an off-night, you”re in deep doo-doo.”
From the tipoff, Indiana worked steadily toward a 15-2 lead. Three turnovers and one block by Chapman were the results of the Wolverines” first four trips down the court. Seven minutes into the game, the Hoosiers led by 13 after missed shots from Thorius, Smith and Ingram.
Michigan was plagued by uncreative passing and poor shot selection, and by a general laziness and unawareness on defense. Freshman Smith had the particularly difficult task of guarding Chapman.
“I was really disappointed when we got the ball inside,” Guevara said. “I think that Indiana, defensively, just took it at us, and we didn”t do a very good job of reciprocating. I always say that big players make big plays. We had no big players today.”
On Thursday, Michigan looked like a new team in the second half. In the second half yesterday, things only got worse. After Gandy missed a pair of free throws that would have made the deficit only nine, Indiana, led by the rebounding and scoring of forward Erin McGinnis, went on a 14-2 run that put them up by 23 with eight minutes to play.
The loss leaves the Wolverines just a half-game ahead of Indiana in the Big Ten standings. Going into Sunday, Michigan and Indiana were fifth and six, respectively. Not only was Big Ten positioning at stake, but both the Wolverines and the Hoosiers are considered bubble teams for the NCAA tournament.