Katelynn Flaherty is one of the few players in the country who can average 18.5 points in her first two games of the season and have that considered a “slow start.”
But the junior guard wasted no time during Friday night’s game against Howard to put those murmurs to bed, as Flaherty jumpstarted the Wolverines’ offense and kept them at a torrent scoring pace to topple the Bison, 109-41.
Howard hit the ground running to score the game’s first six points, but Flaherty got the Wolverines on the board with a 3-pointer from the right wing in what kicked off an unprecedented 52-point run. From that point on, sophomore center Hallie Thome knew the Wolverines were going to get hot.
Up 11-6, Flaherty took matters into her own hands. With 6:17 left in the first quarter, Flaherty hit a layup, and then assisted Thome the following Michigan possession. Flaherty proceeded to barrage the Bison with eight straight points that energized the Wolverines, putting them up by double digits and never looking back.
“Katelynn is Katelynn Flaherty,” Thome said. “Her name says it all, and she puts in all the hours and it definitely shows on the court. I was so happy to see her go off. … When Katelynn hits the first shot, it definitely eases you. To have Katelynn score like that, it calms everyone. We know if she’s fine, then we’ll all be good.”
In just 21 minutes of work, Flaherty finished the night with 24 points off of an impressive 9-for-13 from the field, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Scoring is nothing new for Flaherty, and it might have been the least noticeable aspect on her stat sheet. Flaherty was on triple-double watch for most of the third quarter, and totaled five boards, three steals and a career-high seven assists.
Flaherty’s passing is a facet of her game that she spent much of her offseason improving, and she was able to exploit Howard’s perimeter defense to find open players, something Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico took note of.
“The first thing we talked about in the locker room after the game was her ability to do other things, other than score,” Barnes Arico said. “Tonight she had her head up, and when people ran up to her she made the extra pass and people finished.”
Flaherty was also able to flaunt her talent in front of dozens of former Michigan female letterwinners from across all sports, who will be honored during Saturday’s football game.
“It was really unbelievable,” Barnes Arico said. “We talk to our team a lot about how being a part of our program and being a part of Michigan is ‘four for 40.’ It’s a lifetime commitment. To have them come back and be able to honor them and what they meant, they’re pioneers for all of us and they paved the way for the women in our program now.”