In the past four years, much has changed in the Michigan women’s basketball program — namely, a coaching staff and many of its players left the program with eligibility remaining. But in those four, somewhat tumultuous years — two players have been through it all, seniors BreAnne McPhilamy and Tabitha Pool.
During senior night festivities on Saturday, McPhilamy and Pool were honored in their last home game at Crisler Arena. Led by their families, both came to center court, prior to tip-off. But once the game started, the seniors did the leading for the young Wolverines team.
McPhilamy started the game’s scoring by drilling her first 3-pointer of the year.
“We do shooting competitions in practice all the time and shooting games after practice,” coach Cheryl Burnett said. “BreAnne always was making her threes, so it was a special quality and performance by (BreAnne).”
Said McPhilamy: “It was something we joked about in the locker room. I just said ‘I’m spotting up for a three today.’ It was fun to just be able to hit the first shot of the game as a 3-pointer.”
That basket was the start of a career night for McPhilamy, who scored 11 points and surpassed her career high of eight. Making the moment even better was knowing that she had one of her best individual games.
“You know sometimes when you are just playing and enjoying the experience then things just click,” Burnett said. “Sometimes when you take that pressure away from thinking too much and just enjoy the day and go out and play.”
Fellow senior Pool also had a solid night, although it was not unexpected. She has been the focal point of the Michigan team since day one of the season.
“Our two seniors stepped up marvelously in this game,” Burnett said. “Of course, we’ve been riding on the shoulders of Tabitha Pool all year.”
Pool scored a game-high 20 points while chipping in with nine rebounds and six steals.
The seniors controlled the game early for the Wolverines, netting 15 of Michigan’s first 17 points. But their solid play was not enough to lead the Wolverines to a victory.
Eight minutes into the game Pool swiped the ball for one of her six steals and pushed the ball up court. As she got to the middle of the lane, Pool wrapped a perfect pass around her back to freshman forward Ta’Shia Walker. But Walker could not control the pass and turned the ball over to Iowa. That possession was indicative of how the season has gone for the departing Pool. She can execute as flawlessly as possible at times, but her teammates have not always risen to the occasion.
As the final buzzer sounded and Michigan dropped another game, McPhilamy and Pool addressed their fans for the last time. Both thanked God, their teammates and the coaches. Even though their senior years did not go as well as they may have liked, the departing players both felt like they gave it their all.
“It was fun,” Pool said. “It was a good experience. I feel that we played for 40 minutes and that’s the best feeling. I’m going to go out feeling that we fought.”