With Michigan senior forward Naz Hillmon being double teamed all game, it gave way to opportunities for other players to make shots.
The No. 9 Michigan women’s basketball team (12-1 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) returned from a 12 day break with a win Friday afternoon against No. 25 Ohio State (9-3, 1-2), 90-71.
The Wolverines started the game fast, up 8-0 four minutes in, controlling the tempo and the paint with six of eight points scored down low. Defensively, the Wolverines held the Buckeyes to 0-for-6 shooting in that span.
Ohio State began to wake up, hitting back to back shots to cut the game to three. The Buckeyes proceeded to end the quarter strong, making it a four point game.
Despite their run, Ohio State was held to 35.3% shooting from the field in the first quarter. In addition, the Buckeyes had eight personal fouls in the first, allowing Michigan to maintain their lead from the free throw line.
Heading into the game, Ohio State averaged just 14.8 fouls per game, the lowest in the Big Ten. The eight in the first quarter ballooned to 27 in the entire game, allowing for Wolverine opportunities at the free throw line.
“We knew (Ohio State’s foul trouble) was going to be key for us,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said on WTKA radio. “We wanted to get to the free throw line. With our size advantage and rebounding, we thought we would be able to get to the free throw line. I thought it was pretty consistent — our ability to draw fouls today.”
Both teams would exchange shots early in the second quarter. The Buckeyes were gaining momentum as guard Taylor Mikesell hit her second 3-pointer to make it a two point game with 6:44 left in the second.
“We knew that it was going to be a game of runs and that they were great shooters,” Barnes Arico said. “They shoot the ball exceptionally well, they were going to make some shots and make a run and every time they did we were able to weather the storm which I think is real growth for our team.”
The momentum quickly shifted, however, as Hillmon responded with a layup starting a 19-7 run to end the first half. This was a result of the Wolverines accruing 13 rebounds, five offensive and seven defensive.
Senior forward Emily Kiser led the way defensively, notching 11 defensive rebounds. In addition, her height created mismatches inside the paint, grabbing offensive rebounds and making layups off of missed shots.
“(Rebounding) was one of our biggest keys and especially on the offensive end,” Barnes Arico said. “If they were going to play zone, shoot it because (Emily) is in a great position to rebound the ball off that weak side with a smaller person on her and I thought she was just fabulous in that area.”
Ohio State had issues defending down low early, with Michigan having 24 points in the paint in the first half alone.
Heading into the second half, it was all Wolverines.
Hillmon continued to be a problem for the Buckeyes. Despite putting two players on Hillmon nearly the entire game, it didn’t matter as she kept controlling the paint, making it a mismatch. Hillmon finished the game with 29 points.
“We talked about trying to be aggressive, really trying to find the mismatches and to attack,” Barnes Arico said.
The Wolverines in the third quarter shot 80% from the field, but had nine turnovers, eight of which were steals. The turnovers let Ohio State end the third quarter on a 12-4 run.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Michigan turned ot back around and started off hot, going on a 10-0 run to make it a 76-53 ballgame. Junior guard Maddie Nolan hit her second 3-pointer off the game with 7:09 left to force the Buckeyes to take a timeout.
Ohio State would make some shots late, but it ultimately didn’t matter as the Wolverines cruised to a 19 point victory. Michigan holds a two game winning streak against the Buckeyes heading back to last season.
“We have something special and we want to continue this,” Barnes Arico said.