The Michigan women’s basketball team needed something special if it was going to beat No. 8 Maryland. And it got that, in part, from Katelynn Flaherty’s 23 points. But even those types of performances have become rather commonplace for the sophomore guard.
The Wolverines (2-3 Big Ten, 10-6 overall) fell, 74-67, to the Terrapins, who finally pulled away in the fourth quarter. Michigan hasn’t beaten a top-10 opponent since January 2012 but gave Maryland one of its toughest games of the season on Thursday.
It took almost the full 40 minutes for the Terrapins (4-1, 15-2) to decisively grab the edge, but they eventually did so in the fourth quarter. After trailing by just three to start the quarter, Michigan couldn’t keep pace with Maryland’s speed.
The Wolverines scored just five field goals and two free throws in the last quarter.
The win drops Michigan back below .500 for conference play. And despite not being able to win a third straight game, the Wolverines may have put on one of their best performances.
“I said this at the beginning of the season: We can play with anyone,” Flaherty said. “We can win the Big Ten. Looking at all the games in the Big Ten, you can see how people lose and there are upsets. It’s just a reminder that we can still win.”
Flaherty’s biggest help came from the two post players, freshman center Hallie Thome and senior forward Kelsey Mitchell, but foul trouble had both in dangerous territory.
The pair combined for 24 points and 7 blocks, but each collected their fourth personal foul early in the final quarter.
“That really hurts us both offensively and defensively,” Flaherty said. “(Maryland) had two or three big girls down there, and I know we got outrebounded … and they get second-chance points.”
Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico was forced to switch Mitchell and Thome in and out in the fourth quarter, and the lack of a dominant post presence hurt Michigan late. Maryland outrebounded Michigan, 15-5, in the fourth quarter.
Flaherty led all scorers with 23, but a trio of double-digit scorers for Maryland — guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, forward Tierney Pfirman and center Brionna Jones — carried the Terrapins.
Flaherty had four assists and a rebound in 38 minutes, the most court time of any Michigan player.
Her performance, though high-scoring, also included a 3-for-15 shooting effort from the 3-point line. Eight of those attempts came in the fourth quarter, when the team was in need of a comeback.
“I don’t recall too many terrible shots, but when we’re down 10, and we’re trying to crawl back, and she has a open look, she has the green light,” Barnes Arico said. “We’d like her to make a little bit more than that, but she always has the green light.”
Both sides played an even first half, and with her team trailing by seven entering the second half, Flaherty hit two jumpers. After trading baskets, a pair of free throws gave Michigan its first lead four minutes after the break. The Wolverines gave up that lead late without Thome and Mitchell together on the court.
After last year’s 26-point blowout loss to then-No. 5 Maryland, Michigan improved immensely to end the season. The final result doesn’t come as a surprise, but it aches for the Wolverines, because for most of the game, they were up to par with a team considered one of the best teams not only in the conference, but in the nation.