With just over six minutes left in the second quarter, Oakland guard Breanne Beatty missed a contested lay-up. Junior guard Maddie Nolan scooped up a defensive rebound and fired a pass to senior guard Danielle Rauch. Rauch scored at the rim and drew a foul, bringing the Crisler Center crowd to its feet.
The No. 13 Michigan women’s basketball team hosted the Golden Grizzlies on Monday night, and the Wolverines’ strong defensive performance generated a 69-58 victory — one in which they held Oakland to 36.8% shooting from the field.
Michigan held the Golden Grizzlies to one field goal in the entire first quarter. Along the way, it forced nine turnovers, collected five defensive rebounds and earned three steals. The Wolverines’ defense allowed them to go on a 19-4 scoring run to end the quarter, with seven points coming off turnovers.
Senior forward Naz Hillmon, who did not start this game, came off the bench with five minutes left in the first quarter. She made an immediate impact, as junior guard Maddie Nolan came up with a steal and set up Hillmon for her first points of the game.
“(Nolan) has a super high IQ and has a great understanding of the game,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “She does whatever we need her to do to help our team be successful. In the first half, it was rebounding. She was awesome rebounding for us in the first half.”
Nolan was dominant on the defensive end, leading the team with six defensive rebounds. Thanks to her strong defensive effort, Michigan held the Golden Grizzlies scoreless for nearly seven-straight minutes in the first half.
The Wolverines held the Golden Grizzlies to 5-of-18 shooting in the second. Michigan continued its strong defensive effort, with eight defensive rebounds, three turnovers and one steal to give it a 33-21 halftime lead.
After another stingy defensive effort by the Wolverines in the third quarter, the Oakland offense came alive in the fourth quarter. The Golden Grizzlies went on an 11-0 run before Michigan took a timeout.
“We just looked within ourselves and said that our defense was terrible and that’s exactly how they went on a 11-0 run,” Hillmon said. “We wanted to get some stops but also we needed to get some scores.”
After the timeout, the Wolverines ended the fourth quarter on a 19-8 run.
“Credit to the other team, they make adjustments and then we have to adjust to those adjustments,” Hillmon said.
Michigan ended the fourth quarter with eight defensive rebounds, holding the Golden Grizzlies to 44.4% shooting from the field for the quarter. Even more impressively, it held them scoreless for the final three critical minutes of the game.
“We had to regain our composure,” Barnes Arico said. “But then we really dug deep with a great experienced lineup with the exception of Leila down the stretch, and were able to finish it off.”
Despite the victory, the Wolverines know that they will need to play a full 40 minutes if they want to be competitive heading as the season progresses.
“(It’s) a combination of being locked in for 40 minutes and as soon as we see that somebody has an adjustment, adjusting ourselves on the defensive end trying to figure out what they’re doing to change their pace,” Hillmon said.