While improvement can’t necessarily be measured by defeat, the Michigan women’s basketball team showed promise in its close 59-56 loss to No. 6 Ohio State in Columbus on Sunday.

The three-point loss was Michigan’s narrowest margin against its rival since it beat the Buckeyes in 2001, also on Ohio State’s home court. Michigan played neck-and-neck with the Big Ten conference leaders for 40 minutes before sophomore guard Courtney Boylan missed a wide-open 3-pointer with seconds left.

“It wasn’t like we threw it away,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said afterwards. “We had opportunities. We just didn’t make baskets and they did. Courtney almost hit the last shot. She was on track but she missed it.”

Michigan (1-3 Big Ten, 9-5 overall) jumped out to a quick 8-0 run in the first two minutes at Value City Arena. And even after the Buckeyes came back, the two teams were separated by no more than a single field goal until the final four minutes when Ohio State pulled ahead for the win. Those final minutes clinched the Buckeyes’ 13th-straight victory against the Wolverines.

But a reenergized Michigan squad was almost enough to end that streak.

The Wolverines entered the game with back-to-back conference losses against Michigan State and Northwestern, but the Wolverines still managed to hang with the Buckeyes.

There were 15 lead changes and 12 ties en route to the three-point Ohio State victory. While the Buckeyes (4-0, 16-1) out-rebounded Michigan 36 to 29, the Wolverines shot better from the field by 10 percent.

“I thought we played well,” Borseth said. “We had to. They are obviously very good. Down the stretch we gave ourselves a chance to win, which is what we want to be able to do.”

The Wolverines are still looking for a way to win in the Big Ten as they get deeper into conference play. They hope to utilize home-court advantage on Thursday against conference foe Iowa, a team they narrowly beat on the Hawkeyes’ home turf last month.

“We have to find a way to win,” sophomore forward Carmen Reynolds said. “That’s our focus, that’s always been our focus. We have to find a way to get it done. We are not going to be satisfied with just losing by three to the best team in the Big Ten. We got to keep working hard and keep trying to find a way to win. That’s what we need to do.”

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