The Wolverines (8-3) haven’t been back to Crisler Center since their 66-41 win over Western Michigan on Nov. 21, spending seven games on the road since then. The team will face off against Ohio (7-0) on Tuesday in the first of a four-game home stretch.
Michigan racked up 95.8 points per game on 53.8 percent shooting in its first four games of the season at home. The Wolverines broke the century mark in three of them.
“I haven’t really had to talk about our scoring much this year, when you have three games over 100 points,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico after Michigan’s third straight 100-point game on Nov. 18 against Howard. “So I think my emphasis is on us becoming a better defensive team.”
And since then, Michigan has definitely risen to the occasion. Notably, the Wolverine’s defense at home is nothing to scoff at –– the team has held opponents to 44.8 points per game on 29.8 percent shooting. That effort is led by the charge of junior guard Jillian Dunston, who has racked up 51 rebounds in total, and sophomore center Hallie Thome, who has 41.
Michigan is coming off a loss to No. 10 UCLA, 84-64, after dominating San Diego State, 92-57. As a highlight, senior guard Siera Thompson jostled her way to her first career double-double in the Wolverines contest with the Aztecs. It was the first time since Feb. 14, 2015, that a Michigan player has done so.
“I think this was great for us to come out here and experience a top-level team,” Barnes Arico said. “I think we had to learn to battle through adversity. I think we had to learn to be on the road for an extended period of time. We talked about it a little bit in the huddle, things haven’t gone our way. But we got a long season ahead of us. And we gotta regroup, and we gotta continue to battle and continue to fight.”
The fighting might not only extend to opposing teams, but to family members as well.
This will be the second straight game where a Wolverine will face her twin. At UCLA, senior guard Danielle Williams faced her sister, Dominique. Tomorrow, Thome will do the same against her sister, Hannah.
Though it might be easy to pit the fraternal twins together, Thome, a starter, might see more playing time than Hannah, who has just played in two games this season for the Bobcats for a total of seven minutes.
In addition to Dunston, Thome and Thompson, freshman guard Kysre Gondrezick will be a player to watch against Ohio. In the past 11 games, Gondrezick has scored in double digits and currently leads the team in free-throw attempts with 36, is second in scoring with an average of 13.1 points per game and trails only junior guard Katelynn Flaherty in 3-pointers made with 25.
“She really gets to the basket,” Barnes Arico said. “She gives us a different dimension from that guard spot, and getting to the free throw line 10 times tonight is incredible. That’s something that we’re definitely going to need going forward.”
Michigan will need Gondrezick’s power to end the Bobcats’ undefeated season. Ohio is averaging 70.4 points per game with two athletes, guard Quiera Lampkins and forward Jasmine Weatherspoon, leading the charge by averaging 19.3 and 10.7, respectively.
An Ohio win would boost the Bobcats to just their second win against the Wolverines in six meetings throughout program history, and their fourth against the current Big Ten.
The last time Michigan and Ohio met, the Wolverines escaped with a 69-64 win on Dec. 21, 2007.
This time, Michigan will be happy to be back home and eager to defend its undefeated record on the floor of Crisler Center.