Michigan women’s baskeball coach Cheryl Burnett let out a deep sigh right before her postgame interview Friday.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw gave an identical sigh after her postgame press conference that day.

But the two expressions could not have had more different meanings.

Burnett’s: disappointment.

McGraw’s: relief.

The Wolverines let what could have been their biggest win in years slip away in a 61-58 Fighting Irish victory.

Sophomore forward Carly Benson and sophomore point guard Jessica Minnfield hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Michigan a 56-51 lead with 3:35 remaining. The Wolverines even held that lead into the game’s final minute.

But Michigan seemed to self destruct after Benson’s bucket. The Fighting Irish went on a 10-2 run as the Wolverines turned the ball over five times and shot just 2-for-8 from the charity stripe.

Freshman point guard Sireece Bass missed both of her free throws with eight seconds left and fouled a driving Tulyah Gaines with three seconds remaining. With Rumeal Robinson-like poise, she sank both free throws to basically give Notre Dame the win.

“We win as Michigan and we lose as Michigan,” said Burnett, who declined to talk about individual performances down the stretch.

Bass didn’t play against Miami yesterday.

Head fan: In Friday’s game, junior guard Janelle Cooper stole the ball and got it to Minnfield, who threw the ball over the top to freshman forward LeQuisha Whitfield. Whitfield put a nifty move on an approaching Fighting Irish defender and then dropped in a layup, tying the game at 48 with 6:19 remaining.

After the bucket, Burnett turned her back to the court and raised her arms frantically to ignite the crowd. She turned back to the court, only to turn back around and repeat the motion once more.

“Sometimes, our team doesn’t exude enough passion on hustle plays or great plays,” Burnett said. “I’m trying to get the crowd to exude a lot of passion. . I just keep trying to give our players a lot of confidence.”

Burnett turned toward the crowd and lifted her arms again after Minnfield found Cooper for an easy layup on a fastbreak with 3:48 left in yesterday’s game.

Not all that charitable: After Friday’s poor finish at the free-throw line, things didn’t get better for the Wolverines yesterday. They went 5-for-12 from the stripe in the final 1:20. But Burnett was still confident in her team’s future freebies.

“I’ll tell kids, ‘Hey, I want you at the free-throw line the next time because the next time you’re going to make them,’ ” Burnett said.

Team against cancer: Michigan teamed up with the American Cancer Society to host Basketball For Breast Cancer Day yesterday. T-shirts were given out to commemorate the day. Seven women were introduced at halftime. Four are fundraisers for breast cancer awareness and one is a researcher at the University Hospital. The other two are breast cancer survivors, including Benson’s mother, Nance Pugh.

“I just think it’s really great that they’re doing that, that they’re honoring all these women that have survived breast cancer because it’s a battle,” Benson said. “It’s a very tough struggle, and I think they deserve all the credit that they can get for being as tough as they are.”

She almost shot that from Saskatchewan: Freshman Krista Phillips made her first career 3-pointer on her first attempt midway through the first half of the Notre Dame game. With the shot clock at six, the 6-foot-6 center let the ball go from the right elbow and buried it.

“That was an amazing shot,” sophomore forward Stephany Skrba said.

Phillips is now tied with sophomore forward Melinda Queen for the team lead with a 1.000 3-point percentage.

Phillips had not previously shown that kind of range in games, but must have done it in practice, right?

“No,” Skrba said laughing.

Who’s the coach?: The game notes provided by Miami listed Mary Sue Coleman as Michigan’s fourth-year coach. Coleman is Michigan’s president. But Burnett really is in her fourth year as the Wolverines’ coach.

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