As Krista Phillips walked to the Wolverine bench after picking up her third foul with 16 minutes left against Wisconsin, there was just one question going through Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett’s mind.

Who was going to score in place of Phillips?

The 6-foot-6 center scored 13 points in the opening half, a period in which no other Wolverine tallied more than four.

It was anyone’s guess who would fill Phillips’s void.

It was everyone’s contribution that almost sealed a second-straight Big Ten victory for the Wolverines.

But almost wasn’t good enough.

Michigan performed better than expected when Phillips picked up her third and fourth fouls early in the second half.

But when Phillips picked up her fifth and final foul, her teammates couldn’t pull through.

Phillips’s offensive production was noticeably absent in the closing minutes of Michigan’s 62-59 loss.

The Wolverine reserves made Burnett look like a genius after Phillips’s third foul. As the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, native took a seat, her teammates went on a 7-2 run and turned a four-point deficit into a 40-39 lead.

“I really thought we were able to sub enough,” Burnett said. “Kelly Helvey really stepped up. Jess Minnfield came off the bench. When our post players got in trouble, we had (Ashley Jones) and Ta’Shia (Walker). I really thought we made a lot of good mental plays during that stretch.”

Burnett’s praise of numerous players was not an exaggeration. In fact, all six players that subbed during Phillips’s time on the bench contributed at least two points during their chance to play.

Phillips returned to the lineup four minutes after exiting the game, but found herself the bench after picking up a quick fourth foul.

This time, the Wolverines had to play without Phillips with the score knotted at 40 and 11 minutes left in the game.

Once again, her teammates came through in a big way. Freshman Kalyn McPherson hit a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch, and Minnfield added another.

Forwards Melinda Queen, Carly Benson and Walker all added buckets, too.

“The thing about our team is that on any given day, anyone on the bench can step up,” said Phillips, who netted a game-high 16 points. “Tonight, that’s what they did.”

This was true until she fouled out with just fewer than two minutes to play and the Wolverines up by three.

In this case, the third time wasn’t the charm for Michigan. The team couldn’t come up with a big basket when it needed to.

And the Wolverines came up empty-handed.

Three turnovers during the final five offensive possessions were too much to overcome in the game’s closing seconds.

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