The ACC may have come out on top during the two-day, 11 game ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but it didn’t stand a chance in yesterday’s game against the Wolverines.
The Michigan women’s basketball team (5-2) dominated the Hokies 71-51 last night in in Blacksburg, Va., silencing the “Maroon Monsoon” crowd.
Each of the Wolverine’s five wins this year have been by 15 points or more, the first time this decade the team has achieved that feat.
Michigan wasted no time showing what the Big Ten could do. Sophomore forward Carmen Reynolds sunk the first basket just eight seconds into the game, and the Wolverines never relinquised their lead. They defense clamped down immediately and produced two turnovers in the opening minute.
“I think the defense is working for us,” senior center Krista Phillips said. “Between this game and the last game, we have played at a faster pace. But oh gosh, we are going to have to step it up defensively come Big Ten (play).”
Michigan forced 18 turnovers in the win and now ranks second in the Big Ten for most steals, averaging 10 per game.
Freshman guard Dayeesha Hollins and junior guard Veronica Hicks continued to play aggressive defense, which helped produce the numerous turnovers.
“Steals are something that Dayeesha and I do,” Hicks said. “Dayeesha is a really good on-the-ball player. I am a really good off-of-the-ball player. I like to get in passing lanes and I have pretty good denial on defense. I am able to pick them up.”
Phillips also stepped up defensively, swatting six shots.
Theres no question Michigan coach Kevin Borseth’s “Team Defense” certainly showed up. But the Wolverine offense also came to life, tallying 50 percent in field goals to Virginia Tech’s (4-3) 25 percent.
Four of Michigan’s players scored in the double digits. Hicks recorded an impressive 19 points on the night, while Hollins tallied 16, Phillips had 12 and Reynolds scored 10.
“That’s important that players are getting double figures,” Borseth said. “If you can do that, then you have a better chance to win the game. If one of those guys can step up and get 20 points, then everybody does their job. … We don’t have a shooter yet that can hit 25 a night.”
Michigan’s strong shooting made it difficult for the Hokies to come back from the 29-point second-half deficit.
For the seventh straight game, every active player saw the court. That included all six freshmen, who combined for 25 points on the night.
Borseth and the Wolverines must now prepare for conference play. On Sunday, they will take on Iowa in their fifth straight road game. The Hawkeyes are coming off of a loss to Boston College, 72-67.
Iowa will be a true test for Michigan in its Big Ten opener. And a win will prove that the Wolverines are better than their last-place ranking in the preseason Big Ten coaches and media polls.
Michigan was on the raw end of offensive rebounds, with the Hokies outrebounding Michigan 21-6. That weakness could be troublesome for a Wolverine squad that will need those second chances in games against Big Ten foes — like Sunday’s against Iowa — that are anticipated to be close.
“It’s an effort thing,” Phillips said. “We put a lot in. It is the Big Ten conference. We are going to have to go in, we have to push back. The rebounds that could have let us down didn’t hurt us. We are going to have to get more to get those points back come Big Ten time.”