With just under 30 seconds remaining in Michigan’s 67-58 win over Indiana, Kim Barnes Arico pulled senior center Hallie Thome out of the game. As Thome took a seat on the bench, her coach approached her.
“Did you get it?” Barnes Arico asked.
“No coach, I needed one (more),” Thome said.
Despite finishing one point shy of the 2,000 point milestone, Thome was fine getting the only stat that mattered to her on the night: a fifth straight victory.
After scoring one point against Penn State, Thome bounced back in a big way in Thursday’s win. Thome — who was masterful all night long with a 14-point, 11-rebound performance that also included three assists, two steals, and three blocked shots — netted seven points in the first half. Michigan, however, found themselves in a five-point hole heading into the locker room.
To try and spark a run, Barnes Arico started the second half with freshman Naz Hillmon coming in at power forward — pairing Thome with her heir and sparking a 9-0 run to seize the game’s momentum and bring the Crisler Center crowd to its feet.
“I think it’s a tremendous thing,” Thome said. “To have me, Hailey and Naz, three bigs, some guard has to guard one of us.”
While Thome scored just two points in the third quarter, she dominated on the glass and helped to create transition opportunities by forcing steals down low and registering a blocked shot. On the offensive end, her lone bucket came on a play that saw her strip a Hoosier defender to regain possession of a loose ball before banking in a tough layup to tie the score at 39.
In the fourth quarter, Thome came up with two of the team’s most important baskets. With just under 4:30 remaining, Thome hit a right-handed hook shot to give Michigan a 56-55 lead. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Thome once again converted a hook shot, this time with her left while earning a trip to the line for a three-point play in the process. Thome’s ability to muscle through the contact to finish the tough shot reminded her of a certain teammate.
“I felt like Naz on that one!” she laughed.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Wolverines locked up another huge conference win to push their conference record to 8-6 and, most importantly, improve their resume for the NCAA Tournament. The team’s next game will be on the road against Illinois on Sunday, meaning that Thome will be unable to secure her scoring milestone in front of her home fans. Thome, however, reiterated that she got exactly what she wanted:
“At the end of the day, I’m not worried about the points,” she said. “As long as we win, I’m a happy camper.”