The Michigan women’s basketball team continues to astonish its doubters, surprise its critics and defy the odds.
The Wolverines, picked last in the Big Ten preseason by both the media and the coaches, won their third consecutive road game last night, all over major-conference opponents.
The statement-making, 76-70 victory at Boston College is the first time Michigan has won three straight road games in Michigan coach Kevin Borseth’s three-year tenure. In fact, the Wolverines have done it just three times this decade, the last coming in 2006.
In last night’s win, Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 7-2 overall) once again featured a balanced scoring attack. And for the second time this season, five players scored in double-figures.
Junior guard Veronica Hicks led the team with 14 points, and although foul trouble relegated senior center Krista Phillips to the bench for much of the game, she still managed to score 11 points. While the 6-foot-6 senior was on the bench, Michigan’s guard play dictated the tempo of the game, reeling in 31 fast-break points off of 21 Eagle turnovers.
“They were our savior I think,” Borseth said regarding the turnovers. “Our offense didn’t look very good in my opinion. I thought we were very scattered, very disorganized at times. I think the fact that we had turnovers and got some steals, and got some easy baskets, it really helped us. We put 76 points on the board, and I’m not really sure how we did it.”
Michigan’s two starting freshman guards, Jenny Ryan and Dayeesha Hollins, continued their poised and assertive play in the sixth game of an eight-game road stretch. The backcourt duo combined for 25 points, seven assists, eight rebounds and seven steals. Both also contributed a pair of free throws with under a minute remaining to help solidify the Michigan lead, which is an encouraging sign of their ongoing adjustment to the college level.
“Right after the game I commended both of them on that, because those were very important plays for us.” Hicks said. “The freshmen, you know, they’re ripe. And they do understand that it’s just basketball in the end and it’s just putting the ball in the hoop.”
Sophomore guard Courtney Boylan came off the bench to score 12 points in 10 minutes on perfect 5-of-5 shooting. Boylan’s 3-pointer gave the Wolverines their first lead of the game with just over three minutes to go in the first half. From there, the Wolverines would relinquish the lead just twice before building an 11-point margin midway through the second half.
Michigan then withstood a late rally by Boston College (5-4) as the Eagles pulled within a basket on several occasions inside the four-minute mark.
The close matchup marks the second consecutive road game the young Wolverines have won in the waning minutes.
But as difficult as winning three consecutive road games was for the Wolverines, winning the fourth will be a much greater challenge. No. 8 Xavier is Michigan’s next test on Monday.
“They’re by and far the best team we’ve played so far, without question,” Borseth said. “We have got our hands full.”