Katelynn Flaherty took one half to get rolling, but once the sophomore guard did, the Michigan women’s basketball team followed her lead.
The Wolverines (6-7 Big Ten, 14-10 overall) rallied in the second half, outscoring Wisconsin by 18 in the final 20 minutes, to win their second consecutive game, 82-65.
The Badgers (3-10, 7-16) led for most of the first half, keeping Michigan’s star weapon, Flaherty, silent for 20 minutes. Flaherty was averaging 22.7 points entering Thursday, but she scored just three in the first half.
“I wasn’t hitting shots in the first half, and other people were playing better, so I wanted to get the ball in their hands,” Flaherty said. “I got a quick basket in the second half. Once I get going, it gives me a lot of confidence … (Wisconsin) switched up who guarded me a little bit, but they pretty much face-guarded me the whole game.”
In the game prior to Wisconsin, against Illinois, Flaherty put up a career-best 36 points to reach the 1,000-point mark.
Thursday, she scored her first basket on a mid-range jumper about seven minutes into the game. And despite shooting 1-for-7 in the first half, Flaherty picked herself up and scored 23, including an acrobatic and-1 finish in the third quarter.
On the fast break in the second half, Flaherty, in transition, drove at the lone Badger guard who had made it back on defense. Flaherty drew the foul and launched the ball from her hip, somehow getting the layup to fall.
“I was just trying to draw the foul, really,” Flaherty said. “And then once it went out of my hands, it felt pretty good. I turned around, and it went in. It was one of the turning points in the game, and I think there were a few plays that followed that that really put the game in our favor.”
Added Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico: “I have confidence when Katelynn takes those because, you know, she’s one of the best scorers in the country. I think (that play) was part of the way she was able to get going in the second half.”
In the first half, the Badgers’ extended defense took away Flaherty’s shot, overplaying her to prevent Michigan’s 3-point game from getting going. In the second half, Flaherty began to drive more, which opened up other options for the Wolverines’ offense.
Michigan’s post players picked up the slack while Flaherty struggled in the first half. Senior forward Kelsey Mitchell and freshman center Hallie Thome combined for 25 points in the game, and junior guard and captain Siera Thompson had a routine night as well, going for 15 points, two assists and seven rebounds.
Michigan freshman guard Boogie Brozoski earned her second consecutive start, scoring nine points and dishing out four assists.
The matchup marked the penultimate regular-season game at Crisler Center this season. Michigan’s three seniors — Mitchell, guard Madison Ristovski and fifth-year guard Halle Wangler — could play their final home game next Saturday against Penn State.
The win puts the Wolverines one step closer to the .500 mark as the Big Ten Tournament looms just around the corner.