INDIANAPOLIS – Night and day doesn’t begin to explain the difference between the Michigan women’s basketball team’s shooting from the first half to the second one.
Down 28-18 to start the second frame, the Wolverines stormed their way back into a game that belonged to Wisconsin.
At least that was the case offensively.
With eight field goals in the first five minutes of the second half, Michigan had already eclipsed its entire first half total of seven made shots.
But despite hitting 8-of-10 to shots to open the period, Michigan could never get any closer than five.
With a 35-30 lead, the Badgers went on a 14-4 run sparked by Janese Banks and Jolene Anderson, who combined for 45 points
Michigan’s Achilles heel was its inability to shut down Wisconsin’s 3-point shooting. The Badgers knocked down 10-of-21 from beyond the arc for the game.
Wisconsin’s dribble-penetration drew Wolverine defenders away from Badger shooters, according to Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett.
“Their driving ability opened things up for their 3-point shots,” Burnett said. “They got some wide-open looks from us being out of position and not being good on our recovery.”
On point: Junior guard Krista Clement saw moderate playing time at point guard, giving starter Jessica Minnfield a breather near the end of the first half. With the exception of Katie Dierdorf, who has missed most of the season due to injury, Clement has played the least minutes of any Wolverine this year.
The St. Ignace native may not have not have impacted the stat sheet much (three points, two assists), but Clement managed the game well while she was in.
Thanks to her ballhandling, the team committed just two turnovers in the last nine minutes before halftime. Down 22-8 when Clement entered, the team closed the deficit to 28-18 before the break.
“Whenever (Clement’s) on the court, she brings a lot of energy to the game,” said forward Carly Benson, who led the Wolverines with 11 points. “She always talks to us to calm us down if things aren’t going well on the floor to remind us that we’re still in the game.”
Runnin’ away: The Badgers tallied 53 second-half points in their win over the Wolverines. The outburst didn’t surprise Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone, who saw her team score 93 points in a losing effort against Minnesota last week.
“Scoring has never been our problem,” Stone said. “Stopping other teams from scoring has been our issue.”
The Badgers created their points in bunches, knocking the Wolverines out of the game with 14-4 and 19-0 runs in the second half.
“They hit shots when it mattered, and we missed shots when it mattered,” Burnett said. “It was like a lot of other games where we get the game close and then three possessions later, we find ourselves in a hole. Our shot selection was a bit rushed once we got the game close again.”
Make yourself at home: Stone said Badger forward Jolene Anderson planned to stay in Indianapolis for more than just one night.
“She text messaged me like five times asking about how much clothing she should bring for the weekend,” Stone said. “The fact that she brought a big bag (to travel with) with a lot of clothes tells me about what expectations she had for the weekend are. It’s great to have a player like that on your team.”
For the Wolverines, the first-round exit marks the third straight season the team will unpack its bags after just one contest.
Burnett implied her team didn’t make as much progress as she hoped it would this season.
“It was a challenging year,” Burnett said. “As a coach, you want to win every single game. Any coach that doesn’t win the National Championship is going to say they wish they had won more. With that said, of course I know it’s about wins and losses, and I wish we had won more games.”