The Michigan women”s basketball team seriously jeopardized its chances for a Big Ten title with a 89-74 loss to Wisconsin yesterday in Madison. The loss dropped the Wolverines to 1-3 in the conference and 11-4 overall after being picked as a Big Ten favorite by the media during the pre-season.
No. 12 Wisconsin, picked to finish third in the conference, now sits alone atop the standings at 4-0 with the best start in school history and made an impression on Michigan coach Sue Guevara.
“I thought we played a very, very good basketball team today. We played the best team in the Big Ten,” Guevara said.
Although Michigan has put itself in an early hole, Guevara isn”t thinking about winning the conference. Instead, she will spend this week trying to “find this team defensively” and challenge the team to practice its defense with increased intensity.
The game got out of hand after a 29-11 run by the Badgers to give them a 66-46 lead midway through the second half.
“They couldn”t miss a shot and we couldn”t hit a shot,” Guevara said.
The Badgers made five 3-pointers during this stretch en route to a 52-point outburst in the second half. Wisconsin finished with 33 points from behind the arc on 11-for-24 shooting. Michigan made just two 3-pointers on six attempts, both by point guard Alayne Ingram, who finished with just six points.
Tamara Moore led the Badgers in scoring with 26 points to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. LeeAnn Bies was one of the few bright spots for the Wolverines, recording 27 points and 13 rebounds and her aggressively taking it to Wisconsin”s post players.
The Wolverines jumped to a 7-0 lead to start the game and led 34-27 after a basket by Bies with under two minutes remaining in the first half. But the Badgers went into the lockerroom with the lead after a last-second 3-pointer by Kyle Black that reminded Guevara of a shot-put, giving Wisconsin a 37-35 edge and a lot of momentum.
The Wolverines could not overcome their turnover problems, committing 20 turnovers yesterday the same as the team”s average over the previous three games. Wisconsin”s 12 steals were a big factor but Michigan also had many unforced turnovers such as throwing the ball away and traveling.
Not even Jennifer Smith”s free-throw shooting was reliable in Madison. Coming into the game Smith was an 87-percent free-throw shooter, but she went only 5-for-9 from the charity stripe yesterday.
Michigan will get a chance to improve its conference record Thursday night when it plays Ohio State at 7 p.m.