First, forward Bernard Robinson fouled out with 6:47 to go in the second half.
Then, freshman Lester Abram was hit with his fifth foul just 15 seconds later.
But the Michigan men’s basketball team still managed to find a way to pull out its third-straight win Saturday, 70-66, over Vanderbilt (6-3) at Crisler Arena.
“It was certainly a well-deserved victory, being exam week and playing a team that we feel is a very good basketball team,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “We were able to battle and fight through losing a few of our good perimeter players because of foul trouble. They have a very good low-post game and we did a good job in the second half to limit their scoring down there.”
Though Michigan (6-3) struggled with foul trouble all game, the Commodores were the ones done in by free throws. The Wolverines were sent to the line 37 times, sinking 27 of those attempts. Senior tri-captain LaVell Blanchard paced his young team with a 10-of-10 mark, en route to his team high 19 points.
“(The win) was a step in the right direction,” Blanchard said. “We have a lot of improvement to make but we are moving in the right direction.”
The Wolverines led Vanderbilt 58-46 midway through the second half, but then an 11-0 run by the Commodores sliced the lead down to one.
With the lead at 62-59, the foul-plagued Wolverines turned to an unlikely source for a clutch shot. Senior Gavin Groninger, who hadn’t hit a shot since Michigan’s loss to Western Michigan Nov. 30, found himself open at the three-point line and knocked down a huge shot to give the Wolverines an insurmountable six-point lead.
“The biggest thing is that you just always have to be ready,” Groninger said. “As long as I’m doing other things on the court, then I’m not going to worry too much about whether my shot goes in or not. It felt good, it was a great extra pass from LaVell – knowing that my teammates have that kind of confidence in me, I knew when I let it go that it was good.”
Michigan shot just 29.6 percent from the floor in the first half, but a 6-0 run to end the half pulled the Wolverines within three at halftime, setting the table for a 23-7 run to start the second half that would put Michigan on top for good.
The Wolverines are back in action Monday against Eastern Michigan at Crisler Arena.