Ohio State is particularly good at 3-point shooting, something Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico highlighted in her weekly radio interview with WTKA.
Barnes Arico was not wrong, either. The Buckeyes wasted no time showing just how good they were, going 6-for-9 in the first half of Thursday’s contest. The impressive shooting display killed an aggressive start by the Wolverines and any chance they had of completing and upset over the No. 7 team in the country.
Michigan, a good shooting team in its own right, tried to go shot for shot with Ohio State from beyond the arc, and it nearly succeeded. But the Wolverines couldn’t quite keep up with the efficiency of their opponents on the way to a 97-93 defeat.
All in all, the two teams combined for 48 3-point attempts, with Ohio State making 54.5 percent of its deep shots.
Buckeye guard Kelsey Mitchell, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, hit the first 3-pointer of the contest with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty answered for the Wolverines just 19 seconds later with one of her own, but Ohio State immediately hit another on the other end, cutting short Michigan’s attempt to gain ground.
Mitchell and Flaherty each went 5-for-8 from 3-point range on the night and led their teams’ scoring, with 27 and 22 points, respectively.
The final shot of the string of threes sparked a 12-0 run for the Buckeyes, resulting in a 16-point lead at the end of the first quarter that the Wolverines were never quite able to overcome. Though Michigan finished the game with 11 made 3s to Ohio State’s 12, it took them four more attempts to reach that total.
Part of what contributed to the high number of shots was the personnel on the court.
“Ohio State is interesting because they play four guards and a post,” said senior guard Madison Ristovski. “So a lot of the time, we had four guards out there.”
Added Barnes Arico: “We stat plus-minus and, at halftime, our bigs were, I think, negative 13 and our smaller lineup was a positive number, so we decided at that point to try to play smaller as much as we could.”
With more guards spreading the floor, space opened up for freshman center Hallie Thome to take advantage, and she did just that. All but six of her 21 points came in the second half. Thome also collected 12 rebounds to earn her the second double-double of her short career.
“I was really pleased with the way she rebounded the basketball,” Barnes Arico said. “That’s something she’s really focused on, really trying to get better at. She really went after the ball today.
“I think when you have people making shots, when you have Katelynn Flaherty on your team and people really key on her that opens things up a little bit more for (Thome).”
Though the Wolverines fell short, they showed they can shoot with the best of them.