With 13 minutes left in the second half of the Michigan women’s basketball game against Indiana on Sunday, the Hoosiers drilled three 3-pointers in less than a minute. The Wolverines called a timeout, even though the scoreboard read 50-31 in favor of Michigan.
It was one moment of worry on the road to an easy victory over Indiana, 66-48. The Hoosiers held the lead only once, in the game’s first sequence off of the jump ball. From the next play on, the Wolverines were determined to not let Indiana’s lead stand — the Hoosiers trailed for the rest of the game.
Indiana now finds among the number of teams Michigan has beat down this season. While it was expected that the worst team in the Big Ten wouldn’t give the Wolverines much trouble, their nine-point second-half run was significant enough to catch the attention of Michigan coach Kevin Borseth.
“They made nine points in a minute,” Borseth said. “A 30-point lead went to 20 in a minute. Add another minute to that and we could have found ourselves in trouble. You can’t take anything for granted in this game. Indiana never quit. They came out hard in the second half. Luckily, we did a good job of taking care of the ball.”
Taking care of the ball and a solid five-men-out motion were two major keys for the Wolverines, who had all kinds of success inside the arc and around the rim. Junior center Rachel Sheffer had a game-high 16 points. She was followed closely behind by senior guard Courtney Boylan, who racked up 15.
“When we went five-out, we really opened up the middle,” Sheffer said. “We are fortunate that we have a team where everyone can drive and handle the ball and dish to our shooters. We had a lot of great looks today.”
While it may not have been a major issue given the blowout score, Michigan struggled from the 3-point line and on the glass. The Wolverines shot just 17.4-percent from beyond the arc and had 10 less rebounds than the Hoosiers.
Though Michigan came into the game with enough confidence to overtake Indiana, the team’s size and talent were a concern. During and after the game, however, it became apparent that something was missing from this Hoosier team.
“They are a big, strong team and only one step away from being truly great.” Boylan said. “They have a girl who’s 6-foot-6 and shoots 44-percent from the 3-point line. With a little development, she may be that one step. That’s just one example of the many potential assets they have on that team.”
Boylan was completely serious. There is no obligatory cordiality here. Though the Hoosiers let an insurmountable deficit build in the first half, they beat the Wolverines by five points in the second half. That missing asset could have been the difference in the first half and the game.
Granted, Borseth threw in his reserve team in the last five minutes of play, but that second-half victory spoke louder than words. This could have been a battle after all — lending credence to Borseth’s comment that the Wolverines can take nothing for granted in Big Ten play.
“I loved our second half, it was awesome,” said Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack. “We pushed the ball with poise and took open shots. We ended up with the same amount of shots as Michigan, we just rushed half of ours. If we focus on slowing down and getting the shots we want, then we’ll be fine. That’s what I’m going to concentrate on with this game.”