COLUMBUS – Entering Saturday’s matchup, the Michigan women’s basketball team and No. 11 Ohio State were the last two teams that remained undefeated in Big Ten play. After the matchup, though, only one team maintained their untainted conference record, as the Buckeyes defeated the Wolverines, 96-87.
In its quest to remain undefeated, Michigan faced Ohio State in what will be the only meeting between the two teams this year. It was the Wolverines’ second consecutive Big Ten road game, and thus far, they haven’t fared well away from home. With the loss to the Buckeyes, Michigan is now 5-4 away from Crisler Center.
“I thought it was a great basketball game, a great rivalry game,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “We started out terrific, but I think (Thome) getting into foul trouble early really turned the tides and went in Ohio State’s favor. But they did an outstanding job rebounding the basketball and that was an area we really struggle with.”
The Wolverines (2-1 Big Ten, 13-4 overall) quickly raced to a 10-3 lead against the Buckeyes (4-0, 14-4) within the first four minutes of play, as junior guard Katelynn Flaherty and sophomore center Hallie Thome notched six and four points, respectively.
By the end of the first quarter, Flaherty had already soared to double-digit scoring, surpassing—by a large margin— her total of eight points in the Wolverines’ most recent win over Wisconsin. By the end of the game, Flaherty had a season-high 38 points — good for the second most points scored in program history.
“Katelynn has been working extremely hard,” Barnes Arico said. “She might be the hardest working kid I’ve ever been around in my entire coaching career. So we knew as a staff and a team she was going to break out of (her recent scoring struggles) and tonight, she did.”
Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell changed the game with three minutes left to play in the second, pushing the Buckeyes ahead for the first time all game, 33-32. It was a close lead Ohio State wouldn’t give up.
While freshman guard Kysre Gondrezick led a Wolverine comeback that tied the game at 40 in the second, it was the last time Michigan wouldn’t trail for the rest of the contest.
“Kysre has been outstanding, she’s great for us,” Barnes Arico said. “I think tonight, when you come into an atmosphere of a top team in the country, on their home court, that was a little eye-opening for her. She’s going to have a wonderful career for us.”
By the end of the half, the Wolverines were trailing 45-43, despite tallying double-digit triples — marking the sixth time this season that the team has done so. Flaherty, herself, went 8-for-15 from behind the arc to claim a program record for most 3-pointers in a single game.
“She’s always moving,” said Ohio State forward Shayla Cooper. “She gets one step advantage on you, it’s hand down, man down. She’s going to lock down the shot.”
The Wolverines closed the deficit to eight to begin the fourth quarter, but even that proved to be too large for Michigan to come back.
It was ultimately the Buckeyes’ defense that hindered Michigan. The Wolverines have consistently shown scoring depth off their bench, Ohio State limited them to 11 points in the final five minutes.
Despite a double-double from junior forward Jillian Dunston, a team-high 10 assists from senior guard Siera Thompson and Flaherty’s 38-point outburst, Michigan didn’t have enough to steal a win in Columbus — pushing the Buckeyes’ all-time series advantage to 53-11.