With 1:28 left in the game, Madison Ristovski found herself with the ball in her hands and the shot clock winding down. Despite making only one shot to that point, Ristovski confidently shook her defender with a behind-the-back crossover and drained a buzzer-beating fade away. In that moment, on senior night at Crisler Center, Ristovski’s senior leadership was on full display.
The Michigan women’s basketball senior class ended their home careers with a 78-73 victory Saturday against Penn State to bring their conference record to 8-8. The 2016 senior class was the first full class Kim Barnes Arico coached at Michigan after beginning her tenure at Michigan four years ago.
Ristovski and fellow guard Halle Wangler, along with senior forward Kelsey Mitchell were, honored by the crowd and the team before the game began. Mitchell and Ristovski started the game for the Wolverines and combined to play a total of 50 minutes.
“Kelsey and Halle are like my best friends,” Ristovski said. “Me and Kelsey came in together our freshman year and we both had struggles of our own and things that we’ve overcome, especially Kelsey, and the addition of Halle to our class, I just think both of them are really special and I couldn’t ask for better people to share this with.”
Ristovski is on track to be the all-time leader in games played for Michigan and is currently 11th in program history in 3-pointers made and 10th in assists.
On the day Ristovski struggled from the floor, shooting just 2-for-9 for four points, though she did contribute four rebounds and three assists.
For her part Mitchell scored six points and added six rebounds but was limited by foul trouble, as she earned her fourth foul with 1:05 left in the third quarter.
Preseason knee and foot injuries limited Mitchell to playing in a total of three games in her freshman and sophomore seasons as a Wolverine. This season, however Mitchell has carved out an important role for herself as part of Michigan’s post game, averaging 6.9 points per game. She has also posted 124 total rebounds this year, good for third on the team.
“Kelsey, I mean her story has been something else,” Barnes Arico said. “She came in one of the best players in the state of Michigan, tore an ACL, broken foot, some stuff off the court some stuff on the court and just her perseverance and her struggles to overcome what she has, and not only that but then make the impact that she has on our program this year, wow.”
Halle Wangler, a walk-on transfer from Oakland, didn’t see any game time against Penn State but was awarded a scholarship for this semester before the Michigan State game earlier this season and scored her first points as a Wolverine against USC Upstate on November 23.
“Halle is an inspiration to us all,” Barnes Arico said. “She was born and raised in the Maize and Blue. I mean she knows the tradition and she knows the pride, and for her it’s always been about being a part of something bigger than herself and being a part of the team, the team, the team.”
Michigan will look to the leadership of this graduating class to guide them through the end of the season with the Big Ten Tournament just a week and a half away.