With less than a week until its season tips off, the No. 25 Michigan women’s basketball team showcased its new talent against Daemen, its Division-II opponent in Saturday’s exhibition match. The Wolverines entered the game focused on hustle and defense, prepared to outwork the Wildcats in every aspect of play.
And Michigan did just that en route to a 87-32 victory.
The Wolverines’ veterans set the tone early on. In the first quarter, fifth-year forward Emily Kiser scored as many points as the Wildcats on her own — thanks to finishing at the rim and shooting 7-7 from the free throw line. She also opened up the floor with her passing, feeding junior forward Cameron Williams in the post or kicking it out to the wings for open looks beyond the arc.
“Emily Kiser is probably one of our best passers,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “And that’s why it’s a great combo when we can start her and Cameron together. Because I think she sees the post and she has great vision. She’s tall and she can deliver that pass. She did an amazing job.”
Not only did Kiser lead the team in every offensive category — with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists at the half — but she stood out most at the defensive end. Her box-outs, hustle to force jump balls and active hands led to Daemen errors that fueled Michigan’s transition offense.
The Wolverines’ defense followed Kiser’s lead, forcing numerous errant passes that either sailed out of bounds or into the hands of senior guard Michelle Sidor or sophomore guard Jordan Hobbs. Michigan capitalized on those steals on the other end with aggressive drives to the basket or kick-outs for 3-pointers.
“Emily was getting foul calls and was just finishing over everybody,” sophomore guard Greta Kampschroeder said. “So then suddenly, they’re going into a zone because they can’t stop her. And then we’re open on the outside for three. So it’s really nice having bigs on the inside who can finish because then these teams don’t know how to guard us.”
In the first quarter, shots weren’t falling right away for the Wolverines. But their aggressive drives to the basket forced the Wildcats to commit fouls, which translated to opportunities at the free throw line. Michigan capitalized on those chances and its total of made free throws in the first quarter alone tied Daemen’s first-quarter point total of 11.
“We have some really great shooters, and their confidence was really high when they got to the line,” Barnes Arico said. “Obviously Greta made a bunch of shots during the course of the game and Emily made a bunch and those guys were at the line a few times. So (I’m) really happy with that. I think if we could be consistent with that, that’s going to be very important.”
The Wolverines made 18 of 19 free throws, with ten coming from Kiser and Kampschroeder. Kampschroeder made her first appearance in a Wolverines’ uniform with two minutes left in the first quarter. She immediately made an impact with a 3-pointer and a block at the other end to extend the Michigan lead to 25-11 heading into the break.
The Wolverines carried that momentum into the second quarter, where their defense smothered any spark that Daemen tried to generate. The Wildcats only scored 2 points in the first five minutes of play, and only seven in the quarter.
“We were focusing a lot in practice on helping our teammates, like getting in scrapping for the ball and getting those tip steals,” Kampschroeder said. “I think everybody bought in on that and did a really good job.”
Meanwhile, the Wolverines began to showcase their range. Kampschroeder knocked down another 3-pointer, followed by senior guard Maddie Nolan. Their presence beyond the arc opened up more driving lanes, which Michigan took advantage of to extend its lead to 45-18 at the half, putting the game away for good.
Nolan opened the second half with a bang, making another 3-pointer. And the Wolverines just kept scoring, maintaining their lead above a 30-point margin.
With two minutes left, Michigan subbed Kampschroeder and fellow newcomers — freshman guards Alyssa Crockett and Kate Clarke — back into the game. Kampschroeder continued to make an impact at both ends of the court, forcing two steals and making another 3-pointer.
When the reserves relieved the starters for the last time, the Wolverines continued to extend the lead. Kampschroeder hit another 3-pointer to extend the Michigan lead to 52, tallying 16 points of her own in only 17 minutes of play.
While the Wolverines still had typical first game mistakes, the consistent hard work and hustle helped spur them to a blowout victory.