After jumping to a nine-point lead early in the second quarter, the Michigan women’s basketball team’s offense hit a rough patch.
The Wolverines endured three scoreless minutes, marked by unforced errors and turnovers. So naturally, they turned to one of their leaders — sophomore guard Amy Dilk — for a spark. She responded.
In a span of less than two minutes, she hit a mid-range jumper, a layup and a 3-pointer, stretching Michigan’s lead to 12 and putting the Braves’ run to bed en route to a 77-57 victory on Sunday.
In a game with strong performances across the board, Dilk and sophomore forward Naz Hillmon led the team with 13 and 16 points, respectively. For Dilk, Sunday’s game was mostly a continuation of her play from Friday night against Western Michigan, where she registered 12 points and 11 rebounds.
But for Hillmon, a big game Sunday was crucial to her confidence, as she was mostly limited Friday because of foul trouble.
“It feels really good just to be able to get my feet wet,” Hillmon said. “Sometimes when you’re in foul trouble, it messes up your rhythm a little bit. You have to figure out a couple of things from the bench, but it was definitely a great opportunity for me in the beginning of the season to actually get in the rhythm of things.”
Dilk and Hillmon’s contributions on the glass were just as crucial to the victory as their scoring. Hillmon led the team with 12 rebounds — eight of which came off the offensive glass — earning her first of likely many double-doubles this season. Dilk followed suit on the defensive side, picking up nine rebounds, falling one short of her second consecutive double-double.
While putting up big numbers off the glass is nothing new for Hillmon, Dilk has drastically improved her rebounding thus far after averaging 3.7 rebounds per game last season. If she can continue to pick up boards at this rate, it could open up opportunities for her teammates to run in transition and lead to some personal accolades for Dilk.
“I think the challenge for (Dilk) is ‘Hey, you could be a triple double. You can get a triple double every night,’ ” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “ … Defensive rebounding is effort. You gotta go in there, you gotta mix it up, and you gotta get the effort to go to the ball, and she has made great effort the last two games of being able to do that.”
The effort was certainly there for both Dilk and Hillmon, even beyond their rebounding numbers. A number of times throughout the game, Dilk was the first down the floor on the fast break or off a Bradley turnover to pick up an easy bucket in transition.
Meanwhile, Hillmon led a punishing interior on defense, one that held the Braves to just 18 points in the paint — a number dwarfed by the Wolverines’ 34. This trend will need to continue for Michigan to improve on its No. 148 ranking in scoring defense from last year.
But for now, the Wolverines at least know they can count on these two in tough situations.