Michigan center Jennifer Smith sat at the post-game press conference with a bag of ice on her previously-injured right knee, which had kept her out of five games earlier this season.

Surprisingly, she only had one bag of ice.

Following Michigan’s embarrassing 82-55 loss to Michigan State – its second such embarrassment in three games – Smith had emerged as the only scoring force on the Michigan women’s basketball team in one of its most physical games this season.

During the first-half, Smith struggled inside, getting bumped on nearly every touch. The physical play hindered Smith, who connected on just two of her eight first-half shots. But she managed to get to the line and convert on each of her five free throws.

Coming out of the lockerroom trailing 42-24, Smith had a fire beneath her, going from the victim of the attack to the attacker herself. She connected on four field goals in the first five minutes and finished the half shooting 7-for-8 from the field – good for 27 points in the game, just two off her career high.

One huge difference for Smith between halves was her mentality.

“I knew that no one could stop me (in the second half),” Smith said. “I just went really aggressive (to the basket) every time I got the ball.”

Each of Smith’s seven made shots in the second half were from inside the paint, with her one miss coming from the top of the key.

Michigan State coach Joanne McCallie gave Smith credit for her second-half domination, but felt her team’s fouls hurt its inside presence.

“She’s an excellent, excellent player, and she did a very, very good job,” McCallie said. “She worked hard on the low block, and I think at times we got a little bit out of position. We got in foul trouble, and that caused us to not play aggressively at times when we needed to.”

Smith’s intensity in the second half was something that was missing from most of the Wolverines. Co-captain Raina Goodlow, freshman Niki Reams and junior Stephanie Gandy connected on just 3-of-13 shooting in the second half. Senior co-captain LeeAnn Bies played just two second-half minutes, as Michigan coach Sue Guevara wanted to play a quicker lineup with just one center to aid her team’s press.

Without Smith’s stats, Michigan’s second-half mark of 42-percent shooting (11-of-26) would have dropped to just 22 percent (4-of-18). Reams’ jumper with 17:25 remaining was the team’s only second-half field goal from outside the paint in its 10 attempts.

Despite yesterday’s embarrassing loss (Michigan’s seventh straight), Guevara believes that her team has not quit on her and is still giving 100 percent, based on its performance in practice.

“No, this team hasn’t quit. We haven’t,” Guevara said. “I think that maybe people will look at maybe being frustrated as quitting, and there’s a difference.”

While Smith doesn’t believe her teammates have given up hope, she added a different perspective in addition to just frustration.

“Some people have lost focus, I guess you’d say,” Smith said. “I think we all need to be on the same page, go out there and look to dominate.”

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