Controlling all facets of the game, the No. 12 Michigan women’s basketball team (8-1 overall) allowed Akron (3-3) no room for error.
In one of its final non-conference games before fully entering Big Ten play, the Wolverines dominated over Akron, defeating them handedly with a score of 93-54.
From the opening tip, the Wolverines controlled every aspect of the game. Starting on a 12-0 scoring run and keeping the Zips scoreless for over six minutes, Michigan capitalized on an aggressive offensive attack.
Freshman guard Laila Phelia, in her first career start, nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to open the game. The Wolverines remained hot from three for the remainder of the first half. A drilled 3-pointer from junior guard Michelle Sidor, forcing an Akron timeout, capped off the 12-0 run opening the game. Junior guard Maddie Nolan also notched two 3-pointers in the first half, helping the Wolverines to a final 60% 3-point shooting percentage.
“We made outside shots but we really were able to go inside and take advantage of our size difference against them,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said.
Senior forwards Naz Hillmon and Emily Kiser both contributed in the post, working a high-low rotation. Of Michigan’s 30 first-half points in the paint, the pair totaled 22.
The dominant performance continued on the defensive end, with Michigan forcing nine turnovers from Akron in the first quarter alone en route to the Zips’ 16 total first-half turnovers. The Wolverines took advantage of Akron’s sloppy ball-handling, scoring 23 points off turnovers in the first half.
Phelia was a main focal point of the defense, locking down Akron forward Jordyn Dawson. Phelia held her to only two points, well below her season average of 19.
“(Phelia’s) having an unbelievable freshman season,” Barnes Arico said. “I think she just gives us something that we don’t have. Her explosiveness to the basket, her ability to get in the lane, her ability to finish at the rim, and plus her defensive ability. You know, she started on the other team’s best player tonight and did an awesome job on her. I was really happy with the way she played both offensively and defensively.”
Another scoring run late in the second quarter sent Michigan into the locker room with a 55-21 lead.
The second half narrative was much of the same — a commanding effort from the Wolverines on both ends of the floor. Kiser continued to light up the paint, scoring 10 consecutive points in the third quarter. She ended the game with a new career high 19 points and eight rebounds. Hillmon also notched 18 points and three rebounds. Five players broke double-digit scoring against the Zips, en route to a 65% shooting percentage.
Michigan’s 22 total assists set a new season high, breaking its previous record of 18. Nolan led the Wolverines in assists with seven, and Hillmon and Kiser added five and four, respectively.
“That’s something that we talked about after the Louisville game is reversing the ball, making the extra pass, finding your teammates,” Barnes Arico said. “And early on we were really able to do that and we finished tonight a lot better than we did the other day.”
After struggling to produce offensively in their loss against Louisville, the Wolverines found their stride against a weaker opponent. With so many players contributing on the offensive end and capitalizing on each other’s strengths, Michigan showed its ability to dominate at every facet of the game.
Coming off their first loss to Louisville, Sunday’s win against Akron was the confidence boost the Wolverines needed to face a dominant Big Ten.