During a 31-0 run in the first half of Northwestern’s 67-38 shellacking of Michigan, Wildcats radio announcer Dan Owen expressed his feelings about the jaw-dropping spurt:
“I have never seen the Northwestern Wildcats play like this.”
Truth is, before yesterday’s 29-point blowout against Michigan, nobody, especially the Wolverines, had.
Entering yesterday, the Wildcats had lost 52 of their last 53 conference games. Michigan had defeated Northwestern (2-10 Big Ten, 7-16 overall) on 10-straight occasions, including the Wolverines’ 65-50 win at Crisler Arena earlier this season. But none of these numbers had any significance in the game’s result.
Yesterday’s outcome was decided in an extremely one-sided first half.
The game began with both teams feeling each other out and struggling to put the ball in the hoop. Six minutes into the game, Michigan (2-8, 11-10) trailed Northwestern 7-6. But, in the ensuing 13 minutes, the Wildcats took advantage of an unbelievable Wolverine drought, scoring 31 unanswered points. Northwestern coach June Olkowski believes the run occurred because of her team’s solid work on the boards.
“I just kept telling them they have to rebound,” Olkowski said. “Michigan was going to go over the back, they were going to keep driving. It’s about rebounding the ball in that situation.”
While Northwestern enjoyed a huge first-half output (40), the Maize and Blue had to score six points in the final 1:22 to reach double digits in points (12).
While the Wildcats shot a scorching 65.4 percent from the field (17-26, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc) in the opening 20 minutes, Michigan produced a dismal 13 percent mark (3-23).
Olkowski credits her team’s early dominance to their commitment to the game plan.
“We talked about everything – understanding the offense,” Olkowski said. “We talked about taking good shots, and we showed that in the first half.”
Although Michigan utilized the full-court press during the entire second half, it wasn’t able to close the large deficit, losing 67-38. Michigan’s final total was its lowest output since 1994.
Riding a five-game losing streak, Michigan coach Sue Guevara was beside herself after the game.
When asked if she was stunned by the outcome, Guevara responded, “That’s a bit of an understatement, we were embarrassed.
“You’re supposed to learn something in defeat, (in terms of this game) I don’t know what that is.”
Northwestern shredded Michigan’s defense, shooting 61.7 percent.
“It was the same old story,” Guevara said. “A total collapse defensively.”
Every player on the Wolverine roster had a crack at the Wildcats, as Guevara cleared her bench in the second half.
“I’m continually trying to find a mix, and find some life,” Guevara said.