In the Michigan women’s basketball team’s previous two games, Kysre Gondrezick has been stuffing the stat sheet.
The freshman point guard has led the Wolverines in scoring in those contests — typically a mainstay of junior guard Katelynn Flaherty — putting up a career-high 25 points against Purdue on Wednesday.
But on Sunday afternoon, Flaherty returned to her role as the team’s most elite scorer, barraging Wisconsin for 35 points on 12-for-17 shooting — including six 3-pointers — in Michigan’s 75-66 win over the Badgers. The performance was her second-best scoring total and trails only the 38-point outburst she posted Jan. 7 in a loss to Ohio State — a game she wishes she could’ve bested against Wisconsin.
“I wasn’t really thinking about (breaking my point record) until I saw it and I was kinda frustrated with missing my foul shots. I was just happy that we were winning. … (Jillian Dunston) set great screens so a lot of my shots were wide open, which they haven’t been in the past two games.”
Like sophomore center Hallie Thome, who had a career-best 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the Wolverines’ previous matchup at Wisconsin, Sunday’s contest offered a similar aura with Flaherty leading the charge. But Flaherty’s efforts proved to be much more important this time around, as the Badgers kept their deficit within single digits throughout most of the match.
In the first quarter, Flaherty seemed to be the only player who could put the ball in the basket. While she shot 3-for-5, the rest of the team struggled, going just 3-for-13, and the rest of the game carried along to the same accord.
Flaherty’s seven first-quarter points appeared to be just another day at the office for her, but after the first inbounds pass of the following period, Wisconsin couldn’t contain her. She finished the quarter with 14 points, hitting three treys and maneuvering her way to the basket at will.
“Some of the shots, me and (assistant coach Megan Duffy) were laughing on the bench,” said sophomore guard Nicole Munger, who finished the game with her first career double-double. “She was like five feet behind the 3-point line, fading backward. It’s Kate, she’s gonna make them.”
Flaherty kept Michigan alive throughout the game, but her most crucial baskets came in a timely fashion. At both the 3:38 and 2:28 marks of the final quarter, Flaherty aggressively charged toward the basket and picked up consecutive and-1 layups to bring the Wolverines’ lead to double digits and effectively put the game away.
“It just gave us such momentum,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “She was really incredible. She really did a great job of finishing. You can find people (down low), but making the plays does not always happen and Katelynn can finish so many plays. Her and (Munger) put the team on their backs and really pulled out this victory for us.”
Gondrezick’s recent emergence as a prolific scorer has been a welcome sight for Michigan, but after scoring just three points against the Badgers, even she has learned that in light of Flaherty’s previous struggles, it’s always reassuring when Katelynn Flaherty is hitting her shots.