CINCINNATI – From the start of the season, Michigan women’s basketball coach Sue Guevara knew her team would face its share of zone defense.
After being dominated the first half in the paint by senior LeAnn Bies – who blew up for 19 points on 7-10 shooting – Xavier switched to a tough 3-2 zone to clamp down in the middle.
It worked, and Michigan was unable to beat the zone.
As the Xavier zone dropped lower and lower to prevent Bies from getting any touches, Michigan needed to change its offensive game plan. This meant that the Wolverines would need to hit their outside shots and force Xavier to guard them tightly on the perimeter.
“We didn’t do that,” Bies said, “so they just continued to help inside.”
Guevara watched her team struggle from the floor. The Wolverine backcourt of freshmen Niki Reams, Mie Burlin and Lauren Andrews combined to hit on just four of their 19 shots.
“Defensively, they did a really nice job,” Guevara said. “And if we don’t hit outside jumpers, it’s real easy to collapse inside.”
The freshmen guards were not alone in their shooting woes. Forwards Stephanie Gandy, Tabitha Pool and Raina Goodlow also struggled heavily from the field, connecting on just seven of their 27 attempts field goal attempts.
“We all just need to keep shooting,” Reams said. “(We have to) find the open person, and if you’re open shoot it. If it falls, it falls.”
Circus maximus: During the first half of Michigan’s 69-56 win over St. Louis on Saturday, Bies had an incredible play in which she pulled down a rebound and managed to shoot and make a lay-up, all with only one hand. While a St. Louis player was holding her left arm, Bies managed to use her free right arm to her advantage.
The officiating had gotten inconsistent early on in the half, and both Bies and Guevara thought it was ridiculous that it took the referees so long to call a foul on the play, giving her the time to come down with the board and then put up the shot.
“I was so pleased to see that the officials called that (foul),” Guevara said. “There was no way she could have had two hands on the ball because the other one was being held.”
Bies said this kind of circus shot is nothing new to her.
“I’ve done that before, where people have wrapped my arms up,” she said. “I just felt myself falling and I knew that they had to call that (foul) so I figured that I might as well take a chance, and it went in.”
Silver lining: Following the team’s first loss of the season, senior co-captain LeeAnn Bies offered some advice to the team’s younger core of five freshmen.
“Remember this feeling,” Bies told her teammates. “You never want to have this again.”
Michigan’s next contest will come tomorrow at Oakland, and Guevara believes that only having one day between the loss and the next game will be an advantage for her team.
“The good thing is that we get to play again (tomorrow),” Guevara said. “So we don’t have a whole lot of time to dwell on this.”