The last time the Michigan women’s basketball team had beaten Ohio State, Bill Clinton was president and Drew Henson was the quarterback of the Michigan football team.

But the drought has finally ended. The Wolverines beat the No. 12 Buckeyes 64-51 on Thursday night, ending a nearly 10-year winless streak.

“To be able to beat a team of that caliber means a lot to our players,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “One game doesn’t make a season, but it certainly makes the night a lot easier.”

And for a good portion of the game, Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 8-5 overall) made it look easy against the six-time defending Big Ten champion Buckeyes (0-1, 8-4). The Wolverines certainly didn’t look intimidated, coming out of the gate absolutely on fire and taking an early 24-4 lead.

It was a two-player show in the first eight minutes of the game for Michigan. Senior guard Veronica Hicks and junior forward Carmen Reynolds accounted for the team’s first 15 points. Hicks had eight and Reynolds seven.

But from there, sophomore forward Kate Thompson stole the show. Thompson came in off the bench and drilled three straight 3-pointers, all of which were nothing but nylon. Her third shot from behind the arc gave the Wolverines a 20-point lead with just over 10 minutes to go in the frame.

“I think the one thing that really hurt us defensively was when (Thompson) came in and scored 16 points,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “She went right by one of our veteran players off the dribble. She shouldn’t be able to do that.”

At the end of the first half, Thompson, Hicks, and Reynolds accounted for all 34 of Michigan’s points as the Wolverines went into the break with a 34-20 advantage.

And Michigan was just as impressive on the defensive end. The Wolverines used an all-around team defensive effort to hold two-time All-American and the three-time defending Big Ten Player of the Year Jantel Lavender to just eight points in the first half.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore Rachel Sheffer denied any easy pass from entering the post into the 6-foot-4 Lavender, and the rest of the Wolverines helped on the weak-side whenever the ball did get inside.

“They packed it in pretty tough on the inside,” Lavender said. “A couple of times I was trying to rush it because I knew that the person on the baseline was coming. I was trying to get a shot quick before the double team got there.”

Michigan held Lavender and the Buckeyes to a measly 7-31 (23 percent) from the field in the first half while the Wolverines ended the frame 12-26 (46 percent) and with a whole lot of momentum.

In the second half, Michigan didn’t let up. After Lavender scored a quick two to start the half, Hicks responded with a two of her own to build the lead back up to 14.

Any time Ohio State started to make a run, the Wolverines answered.

“It was one of those games where you use every ounce of energy to win, and I thought our kids did that,” Borseth said. “When you play a team like this, you better lace them up because they come to play, and they’re very talented.”

Even with starting guard Jenny Ryan on the bench with four fouls and starting guard Nya Jordan on the bench with a knee injury about midway through the second half, the Buckeyes still couldn’t cut the lead to anything less than 10.

Much of that has to do with the way the Michigan bench responded when it was needed most. Thompson obviously played her part, but junior Courtney Boylan also came in and provided some valuable minutes down the stretch when Jordan went down.

“Courtney came in with a lot of confidence,” Borseth said. “She was looking for that opportunity to come in and take a leadership role, and I thought she did a great job. She just really had a lot of poise and a lot of savvy coming down the stretch.”

For the Wolverines, there’s no better way to start off the Big Ten season than with a win over Ohio State.

And for Hicks — who hadn’t beaten the Buckeyes in her four-year career at Michigan — this one feels even sweeter.

“I’m just praising God, thanking God,” Hicks said, smiling. “It’s great to get the first win here in Crisler in front of our fans. We just had so much support tonight, and that really helped us.”

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