For most of the Michigan women’s basketball season, junior Madison Ristovski and freshman Katelynn Flaherty have been guards without permanent roles.

At the start of the season, each spent a brief period in the starting lineup before being relocated to the bench in December in favor of defensive-minded sophomore guard Danielle Williams.

But in an 81-50 rout of Purdue on Tuesday, it was Ristovski and Flaherty who led the offensive barrage that downed the Boilermakers at Crisler Center.

Flaherty, who began her second stint in the starting lineup last week against Indiana, tied for the team lead Tuesday with 19 points, shooting 7-for-9 from the floor and a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc. Ristovski added a season-high 15 points of her own — 13 of them came in the first half, when the Wolverines outscored Purdue 48-21.

For Ristovski, in particular, the turnaround was all about confidence.

After setting a Michigan record with a 3-point shooting percentage of 46.6 last season, Ristovski has watched that number drop to 32.9 percent this year. Her overall shooting percentage has fallen from 42.9 percent to 35.5, and (mostly due to Flaherty’s arrival) her playing time has declined from 25.7 minutes per game to just 17.4.

But after a few words with Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico in practice, Ristovski looked like her old self against the Boilermakers.

“I talked to Madison last week, in front of the team — I called her out, kind of,” Barnes Arico said. “(I told her,) ‘You can’t have your confidence rattled. You were one of our best shooters last year. You’re a scorer, you’re a playmaker. We all believe in you. Now you’ve got to believe in yourself.’ ”

Ristovski took those words to heart. Over the last few weeks, she spent time in individual workouts with assistant coach Megan Duffy, taking some extra shots and working to regain her old form. And on Tuesday, the results of that extra work were on display.

“Coach Arico has really been talking to me about getting my confidence up and going out there and playing basketball the way I know how to play,” Ristovski said. “I just think having her believe in me and having my teammates believe in me so much, I was able to go out on the court and exhibit my own belief in myself.”

And as Ristovski worked to restore her confidence with her performance, the young shooter alongside her continued to build some of her own.

Flaherty, who has experienced an inconsistent freshman season despite her natural scoring ability, turned in her third straight masterful offensive performance since retaking the starting role.

“Katelynn has had some ups and downs through the year,” Barnes Arico said. “It’s tough being a freshman on this grind and getting adjusted and acclimated to life at the University of Michigan.”

But in the final stretch of the regular season, Flaherty seems to have finally hit her stride. She has averaged 22 points over the last three games, and she even upped her intensity on the defensive end, grabbing five steals in the last two contests.

“For a freshman coming out of high school, they’ve all been accustomed to taking 30 shots a game, but they’ve never had to defend,” Barnes Arico said. “(Now) I can hear my assistants on the bench being like, ‘Ooh, Katelynn was in the right spot! Ooh, Katelynn did this!’ She definitely is improving in that area.”

Facing an uphill battle as the eighth seed in the Big Ten Tournament next week — and with a potential NCAA Tournament or WNIT berth on the horizon — Barnes Arico knows that confidence and determination remain crucial even as the regular season draws to a close.

“I was so happy for (Ristovski) tonight, because she’s a heck of basketball player,” Barnes Arico said. “But if we get another kid playing like that going into the final stretch here, I think it’s really good for our team.”

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