Before each game, coaches jot down points of emphasis on the locker room white board. In last night’s contest against Indiana, one of Michigan coach Kevin Borseth’s comments read: “Defense, you’ve got to rescue us.”
The Michigan women’s basketball team heard its coach loud and clear, limiting Indiana to just 34.4 percent shooting, and claiming its fifth Big Ten win of the season, 65-54.
Unlike earlier games this season, the Wolverines buckled down from the opening whistle and led the contest from wire to wire. Michigan limited the Hoosiers (5-3 Big Ten, 12-8 overall) to their lowest first-half total of the season with 20 points.
“I think our defense did a good job, especially in the first half,” Borseth said.
After Indiana went toe-to-toe with the Wolverines for the first five minutes, it was outscored 10-2 in the next five. Michigan (5-3, 12-6) stretched its lead to 14 near the end of the half.
The Hoosiers’ Whitney Thomas and Amber Jackson attacked the hoop from the outset, in an effort to put sophomore Krista Phillips into early foul trouble. Indiana actually completed its objective, drawing Phillips’s first foul less than three minutes into the game.
But Phillips, who earned four fouls in each of the previous two games, remained disciplined for the remainder of the contest.
“I can’t get into foul trouble or else we get into trouble as a team,” Phillips said.
Working on her footwork during practice allowed Phillips to make an impact in last night’s game, racking up 16 points. But her work inside should also be credited to Michigan’s effort in the backcourt.
“Those kids shooting that ball from the arc really helped her a lot,” Borseth said. “They really took the (double teams) off.”
The Wolverines performed well from the perimeter, making seven triples and preventing Indiana from staying with its double-team down low. The Hoosiers allowed Phillips to go 8-for-11 from the field, all of the shots from inside six feet.
Michigan’s lead was cut down to five points early in the second half. But that’s when junior Carly Benson emerged.
The 6-foot-2 forward delivered a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. But it was her three 3-pointers that opened the interior.
“Carly stretches (the Hoosiers) a little bit,” Borseth said. “The two really complement each other really well.”
Benson finished with 22 points. Phillips notched her third double-double of the season.
After the game, Borseth was again asked where his team stands in the Big Ten. He said the Wolverines still have to see the rest of the teams in the conference before that will be clear. But with Michigan shutting down an Indiana team with the player Borseth called the best in the league in Thomas, it may have big things in its future.