It was a one-woman show for Michigan last night.
But when the other four players on the court hardly contribute, it doesn’t mean much.
Junior Jessica Minnfield was the lone bright spot in the middle of a bleak evening for the Wolverines. She scored 18 points and sparked an early 8-0 run for Michigan in a 66-42 loss to No. 21 Ohio State.
Michigan (1-1 Big Ten, 8-4 overall) opened the game poorly and quickly found itself down 9-0.
Minnfield chipped in the next eight points for the Wolverines, bringing them within one, the closest they would get to Ohio State (10-3, 1-1). She stole the ball three times, scored three baskets and had an assist on a layup by junior Carly Benson.
But her spark was fruitless in what was otherwise a team-wide breakdown.
“We were terrible,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “She was the only kid to show up to play. We played one player on the floor, one. We got beat in every aspect of the game.”
Minnfield shot 50 percent from the field and went 7-for-9 from the charity stripe, while the team shot an abysmal 26.4 percent and made just over 57 percent of its free throws.
“It’s always going to be very frustrating if we don’t get good shots,” Minnfield said.
The Buckeyes’ domination extended to the glass, where they held a 17-rebound advantage over Michigan.
The Wolverines never really had a chance to rebound from their poor play in the first half. The relentless Buckeye defense forced Michigan to take abysmal shots. The Wolverine offense was nowhere to be found, scoring just seven points off set plays.
The highlights were few and far between. Minnfield made a nice 3-point shot despite tough defense, and junior Stephany Skrba was able to get a solid shot down low that gave her an easy bucket.
Center Krista Phillips was ineffective after two early fouls. Even when she was on the court, Phillips couldn’t back down into the post against Buckeye center Jantel Lavender. Borseth looked to the bench in desperation and came up empty with equally poor performances by senior Ta’Shia Walker, who missed three inside shots, and junior Melinda Queen, who was 0-for-4 in the first half.
“We like to move the ball cutting, setting picks,” Minnfield said. “But we weren’t doing any of that today. We were just standing on the 3-point line, not moving, not communicating.”
The second half wasn’t any better. The Buckeyes extended their lead to as many as 29. Lavender continued her dominance, finishing with a double-double (14 points and 14 rebounds).
The Wolverines scored the bulk of their points during two runs, one generated by Minnfield early in the first half and another fueled by free throws. With the Buckeyes up 51-22, Michigan was able to draw to within 19. By that point, though, the game was already over.
The loss was even more devastating considering the Wolverines’ impressive win over Iowa on Dec. 30 to begin the Big Ten season – their first victory in a conference opener in six years.
For everyone other than Minnfield, this loss is one Michigan would prefer to forget.
“It was a bad game, we’ve got to recover from this,” Minnfield said. “We can’t dwell on the loss.”