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A “three-headed monster” isn’t a fun obstacle for anyone to face. 

The Wolverines’ dynamic trio of fifth-year wing Leigha Brown, graduate forward Emily Kiser and sophomore guard Laila Phelia earned that moniker from Iowa coach Lisa Bluder in a Jan. 7 loss to the Hawkeyes. But the No. 14 Michigan women’s basketball team’s opponents have been dealing with that onslaught all year long. 

And in Michigan’s dominant, 81-58 victory over Rutgers, the Wolverines (16-3 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) showed the Scarlet Knights (8-12, 2-6) just how their trio — which combined for 61 points — earned that very sobriquet.

“Laila was awesome and we were able to find Emily and get Emily touches and she really got going, and Leigha’s playing great,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said postgame. “It’s nice to have a balanced attack.”

Engaged in a tight battle through the first 12 minutes of play, the trio stepped up time and time again. With all but two of the Wolverines’ first-quarter points, Brown, Kiser and Phelia drove Michigan to an 18-14 lead over Rutgers at the end of the period. But that was just the beginning for the triumvirate, as they would continue to outperform the Scarlet Knights through each of the first three quarters before earning their rest in most of the final frame.

However, not everything went Michigan’s way initially. The Wolverines opened the game 0-for-4 from deep, taking time to hit their stride. By halftime though, the tide had turned as Michigan connected on three out of its next four 3-point attempts, one apiece from Kiser and Phelia, and two of which were assisted by Brown. With every success, the three-headed monster had a role. Over the final eight minutes of the quarter, Kiser scored eight points and Phelia added seven of her own to help send the Wolverines into halftime up, 41-30.

“I definitely feel like us three out there is pretty tough and I feel like we all have great chemistry,” Phelia said. “So being able to be out there with them and understanding and even learning the game, I feel like that’s just a blessing.”

A blessing for Michigan, but a curse for Rutgers as the Wolverines picked up right where they left off out of the halftime break. Michigan notched six quick unanswered points — all of which were either scored or assisted on by the trio — and forced the Scarlet Knights to take a timeout in hopes of stemming the bleeding just 90 seconds into the quarter. 

But that’s all those were: hopes.

After exiting the huddle, Rutgers was met with more of the same commanding force from the Wolverines. Brown, Kiser and Phelia combined for 21 points in the third frame, going a collective 7-for-9 from the field and sinking all six of their attempts from the charity stripe. 

The trio, all averaging at least 16 points per game heading into the contest, had outscored the Scarlet Knights by 10 points on their own with one quarter remaining. 

Getting it done in all facets of play, Brown added 10 assists to her line for the night — completing her second points-assists double-double of the season. Brown, Phelia and Kiser also combined for 13 rebounds before being pulled for rest. Despite those limited fourth-quarter minutes, the trio still ended the contest with a combined 61 points — outscoring Rutgers’ entire team — to help Michigan earn its first-ever road win against the Scarlet Knights.

On the stat sheet, the numbers were impressive. But the intangibles were, too. The group took multiple charges, building upon the grit displayed against Michigan State, as well as providing each other with a calming voice and on-court pointers.

“Leigha was just in my ear talking to me, even Emily too, just when to cut, when to flash, so just being able to be out there with them is amazing,” Phelia said, before adding on with a chuckle. “And scary for other teams.”

A 61-point, 13-rebound and 12-assist trio? A scary thought indeed.

And for the Scarlet Knights, the Wolverines’ trio-powered thrashing gave them nightmares.