She missed her first four shots, but Katelynn Flaherty won’t walk away from Monday’s game against South Carolina Upstate remembering that.
Instead, the sophomore guard will look back at her next 16 attempts, 13 of which she made on her way to a career-high 34 points as the Michigan women’s basketball team (4-0) had no trouble taking down the Spartans (4-2), 119-61, finishing with the second-most points scored in program history since the beginning of the NCAA era.
“When I started making shots, then everything started flowing in my game offensively,” Flaherty said. “Not getting down when I miss shots has been a part of my growth this year. I think I’ve changed my mentality a lot. I work on shooting all the time. I expect myself to make those shots, so I just kept shooting and it happened.”
The Wolverines ended the first half with 65 points, their most since 1980, by shooting a remarkable 69 percent from behind the arc, making 64 percent of their total shots in the period.
In the first half, 17 of Michigan’s 23 field goals were assisted by eight different players.
“I think we’re really unselfish,” Barnes Arico said. “I think we always look to make the extra pass and get the best shot off and not the first shot. We did a really great job of that tonight. We had four players tonight with five assists. That’s pretty incredible.”
With the Wolverines looking flat from the start, and scoring threats like Flaherty and sophomore forward Jillian Dunston shooting a combined 0-for-6 in the opening five minutes, Barnes Arico felt her team needed a spark.
Soon after introducing freshman guard Boogie Brozoski and junior guard Danielle Williams, Michigan turned on its press defense, went on a 7-0 run and never looked back.
Brozoski, Williams, Flaherty and junior guard Siera Thompson stifled South Carolina Upstate’s offense and opened the second quarter making nine consecutive baskets.
While Flaherty was the primary scorer, Williams and Brozoski carried the Wolverines defensively. The pair combined for eight steals, as Michigan forced 27 Spartan turnovers. Brozoski also finished behind Flaherty with 16 points and co-led the team with five assists.
“Once we got into the press, the energy was there,” Brozoski said. “When we press, and we get up and have that energy, we definitely intimidate teams a little bit and get them to turn the ball over.”
Thompson proved to be the motor behind the Wolverines’ high-powered offensive attack, scoring 13 points, including making all three 3-point shots she attempted. But the guard drove Michigan’s attack starting from the defensive glass, where she grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Senior guard Madison Ristovski carried the Wolverines when they were cold in the opening minutes, scoring nine of Michigan’s opening 11 points, all from beyond the arc. Watching her teammates struggle to score, the senior stepped up and lifted the Wolverines from a lackluster start into a historic night. She finished with 11 points and five assists.
“Madison has really been a spark for us in our last couple games,” Barnes Arico said. “She’s been super consistent shooting the ball, and she’s one of the best passers we have. Her consistency has really been a staple for us and it’s great to see that from her as a senior.”
While there was much to cheer about Monday night in Crisler Center, the loudest moment came when fifth-year senior Halle Wangler scored her first career point with a minute left in the contest.
“(The team) was more excited for her than they were for their own individual success,” Barnes Arico said. “Halle is a great kid and brings a lot of energy and passion every single day, and for her to have the opportunity to do that tonight was special.”
Between Flaherty and Wangler’s career moments, Michigan’s offensive explosion will be one for the record books, as the Wolverines continue to show their attacking consistency early in the season.
“It was just a great night for the whole team,” Brozoski said. “Everyone scored. Everyone impacted the game in some way. At the end of the day, it doesn’t come down to points. It comes down to how hard you play, and everyone gave it their all out there.”