With 12 minutes remaining in the Michigan women’s basketball team’s 62-60 loss to Indiana last night, freshman guard Jenny Ryan attempted to motivate her teammates on the bench as the Wolverines trailed by nine points in Bloomington.
Meanwhile, second-stringers Ashley Jones, Courtney Boylan, Nya Jordan and Rachel Sheffer were on the court, accompanied by only one consistent starter, Carmen Reynolds.
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth’s decision to play nearly his entire bench, at probably the most critical part of the game, was out of character.
“I think we needed that little spark,” Boylan said. “(Coach) went to the bench and he was looking for a spark. Looking back now, that’s when we made a surge. He does frequently sub people in so everyone can have their big night.”
But the second string seemed to be the best option. In the first half, freshman guard Dayeesha Hollins scored a season-low two points, while senior center Krista Phillips made only one of her first seven shots from the paint. The Wolverines didn’t lead at all during the first twenty minutes.
“I think some players have on games and some have off games,” Reynolds said. “We typically start off faster than we did, and we didn’t start that well. We needed defensive stops. I don’t know what they shot but we felt that every shot was going in. It was a rough start.”
The backups cut the Hoosiers lead to five, and Borseth substituted a few of his fresh-legged starters. Veronica Hicks and Phillips were put back in with the high-energy Boylan, Jordan and Reynolds. The five went on a 15-0 run, and just like that, the Wolverines took their first lead of the game with five minutes remaining.
But after a 5-0 run by the Hoosiers, a three-second call that cancelled out a Boylan 3-pointer, and an offensive foul, the Wolverines were down two. Hicks then inbounded the ball to Phillips at the post, who missed an open layup to seal an Indiana victory.
Michigan (2-5 Big Ten, 10-7 overall) might have might have won if it weren’t for poor shooting in the first half. The Wolverines shot just 37 percent from the field.
Or it could have been the poor officiating, which was alluded to by players and coaches. Michigan was called for 16 personal fouls compared to Indiana’s 11.
“A couple fouls the ref called were heartbreaking,” Boylan said. “We don’t want to ever blame anything on the refs. Ronnie asked the ref and, she said, ‘why didn’t I get the call on the other end?’ In a way we like it to be more equal. But teams have home court advantage and refs sometimes play into that.”
The team will play Ohio State next Thursday at Crisler Arena in hopes of spoiling the top-ranked Big Ten team. Borseth agreed that his team needed to put the past behind it and look forward to its match-up with Ohio State.
“The game’s over,” Borseth said. “There is no sense in crying over spilt milk.”