That’s the difference between the Michigan women’s basketball team’s points in the paint compared to Purdue’s.
Out-scoring the Boilermakers 54-26 down low, the Wolverines dominated an undersized Boilermaker team. Michigan leaned on its strong post players, focusing on efficiency with high percentage shots in the paint on its way to a 79-66 victory.
“They’re an undersized team that gives us matchup problems,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “But we were really able to expose them and take advantage of the mismatches that we had inside.”
From the get-go, Michigan imposed its will in the paint with senior forward Naz Hillmon pouring in 10 of the first 12 points for the Wolverines in the low post. Ending the first quarter with 15 points, Hillmon carried the team through the quarter with low percentage scoring from beyond the paint. She’d go on to finish with 32 points.
After the second quarter, the Boilermakers adjusted, keeping the ball from finding Hillmon nearly as often. Yet, she still found ways to impact paint play, finding guards cutting through the lane and working with Kiser on the opposite block.
Kiser found her own groove late in the game, notching 12 points. Working the low post with Hillmon, she also had a career-high seven assists — most of which were covered on by Hillmon.
“One of the big things is right now we’ve been doing a lot of two post low,” Hillmon said. “Whereas in the past we kind of had one post high and one low. But having both of us down there we have to sit on the defender so it’s less likely for them to double but also another opportunity for us to rebound.”
Purdue tried to make adjustments at half to contain Michigan’s post players, but the Wolverines found other ways to continue dominating the paint. Brown started to get hot in the second quarter and continued that into the second half. Driving and cutting into the paint, she ended the game with 13 points.
Senior guard Amy Dilk also contributed in the post, driving into the lane at a few key moments and finishing with six points.
“We have some really great cutters,” Hillmon said. “In terms of our guards they really slash in there, try to get to the paint. Whether it’s a pull up or a layup they do a really good job of that. You know whether it be Amy, Leigha, Laila (Phelia), all of them are really great at making sure they get to the basket.”
More than doubling the Boilermakers points in the paint, the Wolverines successfully exposed Purdue’s weaknesses. In a game with a low 3-point shooting percentage, Michigan needed to generate points in other ways and was able to capitalize on its strength in the post.
By finding success in the paint, the Wolverines displayed the wealth of experience each of their players has to make adjustments against tough teams. The depth at each of these positions led Michigan to a strong finish against a tough Boilermaker team.
“I think that’s what’s great about our team is that we do have that balanced attack,” Barnes Arico said. “If they want to send two and three people at Naz we have other people that can make plays.”