Senior wing Leigha Brown caught a pass out of the post from senior forward Emily Kiser and drilled a 3-pointer from deep at the buzzer, ending the first quarter. Brown’s shot gave the Michigan women’s basketball team an 11 point lead that the Wolverines would maintain throughout the rest of the game, winning 93-81.
The quick-fire passes from the post to the perimeter were a focal point of the Wolverines’ dominant offensive performance.
From the get-go, Wisconsin sat back on defense in a zone, hoping to control the paint against senior forward Naz Hillmon. Despite being double and triple teamed on nearly every play — something she sees almost every game — Hillmon was still able to find space in the post, leading the team with 21 points.
Kiser also found her groove in the paint, working the high-low offense with Hillmon. Ending the game with 18 points, Kiser continues to be a contributor for the Wolverines amidst her breakout season.
Out on the perimeter, Michigan’s guards also capitalized on the Badgers’ zone defense. Senior guard Danielle Rauch notched 18 points, a career high. Brown added 13 points alongside junior guard Maddie Nolan’s 11 off the bench.
Moving the ball and never remaining stagnant on offense were key to breaking down Wisconsin’s zone, especially passes into and out of the paint. The Wolverines’ offense always runs through Hillmon, and while she was the team’s highest scorer, she also became a strong facilitator with five assists.
“As a guard and a shooter, I think we all love zone,” Rauch said. “But I think especially having someone like Naz and someone like Emily that is really good at passing … we knew we were (going to) have success against it.”
Three-point shooting was also a key facet of the Wolverines’ offense, especially on passes out of the post. Rauch and Nolan both went 3-for-6 from behind the arc, leading Michigan to a 41.2% 3-point shooting percentage.
“They were really obviously packing the paint and left us open for some shots,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “Maddie Nolan’s just a tremendous shooter.”
Having not seen much zone in non-conference play, Michigan’s balanced scoring attack was key. If teams are looking to take away Hillmon in the paint, the rest of the offense needs to step up and fill in the gaps, which is just what the Wolverines did on Thursday night.
“That balanced scoring attack ended up being very important because we didn’t play defense,” Rauch said. “But it was good for everybody to kind of get involved and we were really able to take advantage of the matchups. They’re pretty small. So you know, offense definitely wasn’t a struggle tonight.”
With tougher teams coming up in the Wolverines’ schedule, Michigan proved just how strong and experienced its offense can be in Thursday night’s offensive performance.