YPSILANTI, Mich — Turnovers were the difference.

The Michigan women’s basketball team fell to Eastern Michigan, 77-64, tallying 18 turnovers in the process. The Eagles had 19 turnovers, one more than the Wolverines.

But it’s what Eastern Michigan did with their turnovers that was the difference. The Eagles were able to convert 30 points off the Wolverines’ miscues.

“(Turnovers) were where we went wrong in the game,” said junior forward Rachel Scheffer. “We had 10, 11 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game.”

Michigan converted just 17 points off Eastern’s turnovers and had just six fast-break points.
Part of the problem for the Wolverines was the speed of the Eagles. Eastern Michigan’s ability to run the floor and score in transition was the direct result of its proficiency at forcing turnovers, scoring 15 fast-break points.

“(Eastern Michigan) is a very athletic team,” said Michigan coach Kevin Borseth. “We knew that, coming in, transition was a key part.”

Later in the first half, Eastern Michigan went on a 13-2 run, and the Wolverines turned over the ball on consecutive possessions during that stretch.

Michigan looked flustered on offense with the Eagles’ zone defense swarming the ball, especially in the paint. The result was difficulty in holding onto the ball.

“(Turnovers) are not typical of our team,” said senior guard Courtney Boylan. “When we don’t take care of the ball we’re not a good team. When we take care of the ball, we’re a very good team.”

When the Wolverines went into the locker room at halftime, they trailed by just seven points, but their 11 turnovers were glaring.

In the second half, any changes they made didn’t seem to work. After a Wolverines basket to open up the half, Eastern Michigan went on a 10-0 run, giving it a 15-point lead — the biggest of the game for the Eagles.

“I think it came down to which team was going to come out with energy and they came out with tons of energy,” Scheffer said.

Michigan’s struggles on offense to keep the ball and not turn it over have to be attributed to the tenacious Eastern Michigan defense.

“(The defense) was very swarming,” Boylan said. “Their hands are on you, they’re pressuring the ball, but that’s on us. We’ve handled teams that have pressured us before. Eastern is no different than teams we have played. The onus is on us. We got to take care of the ball.”

Added Borseth: “We knew exactly what we wanted to do, but they had us pressed around that perimeter moving the ball instead of attacking the rim.”

The impact of the quick perimeter defense was seen in the Wolverines’ inability to score from behind the arc. This season, Michigan has averaged six 3-pointers per game, and has shot 32 percent. On Sunday, it only had two makes and shot a mere 17 percent.

When the Wolverines lost to Maryland on Nov. 30 — their only other loss on the season — they faced similar problems. As the season progresses, it will be important for Michigan to address these issues and figure out a way to solve the problem that a pressing zone defense has posed for it.

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