For Katelynn Flaherty, it’s easy at this point. Wait for the defense to contract around a stampeding Jillian Dunston then slide in behind as the trailer. Three points. Run off a Hallie Thome pindown, leaving her defender behind. Three points. Or, loft one up from half-court, a heave that falls through the net as the buzzer sounds. Three points.
The senior guard does all of the above, all in the first quarter, on the way to a 44-point win over a conference opponent. It’s par for the course.
“Just crazy,” she said. “I do not know how the hell I would be able to do (a half-court shot) again.”
Flaherty is Michigan’s all-time leading scorer, an honor earned with a 3-pointer (what else?) at Nebraska last week, to move atop the list. Not the women’s basketball program’s all-time leading scorer, mind you — though she holds that honor as well. The school’s all-time leading scorer. She passed Glen Rice’s record of 2,442 points, leaving the three-time NBA All-Star in her dust.
Rice sent Flaherty a congratulatory Facebook message after the record was broken, but didn’t meet her in person until Sunday — a ceremony during a break in the Michigan men’s basketball team’s win over Rutgers.
“I always say records are made to be broken and to be able to have it done by Katelynn, who’s had a tremendous career, tremendous athlete, tremendous scorer — I mean, God, that’s almost like another Glen Rice out there watching her shoot the basketball and do what she does,” Rice said. “For me, it’s an honor to even be in the same sentence as she is.”
Rice knew Flaherty was coming for his record well in advance, a reality of having a female sharpshooter who couldn’t leave early for the NBA in his midst. By Sunday, Flaherty was already at 2,505 points, a virtue of dropping 21 and 27 points in two games since breaking the record.
“When I found out I was gonna be coming here and scouting the game (for the Miami Heat) and they told me, ‘Oh yeah, you know, you’re not the all-time leading scorer anymore,’ ” Rice said, “I went, ‘Oh really, great. Let me guess: Katelynn.’ Yes, it was her. I (had) seen it coming, a while back.”
There’s a poetic justice to Flaherty — a sharpshooting guard whose favorite play is a pull-up jumper — passing Rice, who shot over 50 percent from beyond the arc, leading Michigan to the 1989 National Championship. Though a senior, Flaherty has yet to make the NCAA Tournament. But the No. 19 Michigan women’s basketball team (6-2 Big Ten, 17-4 overall) is well on its way.
And, like they did with Rice, opponents are pulling out all the stops to keep Flaherty from beating them, face-guarding her 25 feet from the basket with regularity.
“You got defense working night in and night out trying to stop you and at the same time, when you’re a scorer and you know it’s coming, you work that much harder to stay ahead of what they’re trying to do as far as strategy and stopping you, so I feel it,” Rice said. “I understand the body of work that she (has). She’s put in the work and when you put in the work, you accomplish what she is accomplishing. It’s pretty easy when you’re in that spot because you understand exactly what you gotta do to keep going forward.”
With eight games to go before the Big Ten tournament, Flaherty is well on her way to setting a near-unbreakable scoring mark. The only thing left for her to accomplish in her collegiate career: A tournament run.