In the second game of the season, the Michigan women’s basketball team showed again that it has many weapons on the roster that can step up and score.
The Wolverines got off to a fast start in their 77-57 win against Bradley on Sunday, going on a 7-0 run to start the game. Sophomore forward Naz Hillmon led the way in this stretch with four points and two offensive rebounds, and Michigan made three of its first five shots.
“I thought Naz just had a different mentality altogether today,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “She came out from the tip just being super aggressive. I don’t even mean if that was her getting touches with the basketball, I just mean from a rebounding perspective, she was all over the place from the beginning of the game.”
A Braves timeout two minutes into the quarter slowed Michigan’s momentum, and a bucket was hard to come by for the rest of the quarter for the Wolverines. Michigan made just two of its last 15 shots, and only led Bradley by seven after the first quarter.
The Wolverines continued to struggle offensively early in the second quarter, but with 6:45 left, sophomore guard Amy Dilk hit a jump shot in the paint that sparked a 7-0 run for Michigan over a two-minute span. While Dilk carried the load offensively, scoring all seven points, the Wolverines’ entire lineup played stingy defense, forcing three turnovers.
Michigan closed out the half with strong shooting, highlighted by 3-pointers from Dilk, junior guard Priscilla Smeenge, freshman center Izabel Varejão and sophomore forward Emily Kiser. The team took a 38-21 lead into the half, and after shooting just 25 percent from the floor in the first quarter, the Wolverines made 50 percent of their shots in the second, and shot five-for-seven from 3-point range.
The beginning of the third quarter saw Hillmon take over. She scored eight of Michigan’s first 10 points, six of which were in the paint. Hillmon finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
But three minutes into the quarter, Bradley showed life. The Braves were able to outscore the Wolverines in the third quarter due to stellar 3-point shooting, making six and cutting the deficit to 14.
The shift in momentum continued into the fourth quarter. Bradley guard Gabi Haack drew a foul on a made shot under the basket and hit her free throw, narrowing Michigan’s lead to 11. Hillmon picked up her third foul on the next possession, giving the Braves an opportunity to cut the lead to single digits on the next possession.
But the Wolverines quickly quieted any chance of a comeback. They forced a turnover on the ensuing possession and freshman guard Michelle Sidor drained a 3-point shot, catalyzing a 12-2 run that gave Michigan a 21-point lead and put Bradley away.
“It was nice to see us have to rally and have to get a stop on the defensive end, and … have to be able to execute some plays down on the offensive end,” Barnes Arico said. “We don’t have a tremendous amount of experience in terms of senior minutes played or junior minutes played, so a lot of these kids are going through stuff for their first time, and I thought they responded really well tonight.”
Sidor accounted for eight points during this period after shooting one-for-four in the first half and spending an extended period of time on the bench — finishing with 11 points in just 17 minutes.
“The confidence … that she has, to not hesitate after missing a couple shots, being out, and then having to come in and boom, you got a touch, now you gotta make a play,” Barnes Arico said. “For a freshman to have the confidence in themselves to be able to do that I think is just tremendous.”
Added Dilk: “She can obviously shoot the ball but also she works off of the bounce as well. So just having those two options, it puts the defense in a threat, so you don’t really know what way her scoring is coming from.”
While early shooting woes hurt the Wolverines, their ability to catch fire at any moment meant the result was never in doubt.