With the Wolverines up big into the second quarter, the underclassmen were given ample opportunity to show their skills. One such player, sophomore forward Whitney Sollom, made an impact on the defensive end that exemplified Michigan’s defensive prowess. With the Terriers attacking the post, Sollom reached with her left hand and swatted the ball away.
If there was one play that would summarize this game, it would be that block.
After a subpar defensive performance against IUPUI last Tuesday, the No. 11 Michigan women’s basketball looked to send a message, and did so in its 82-46 win over St. Francis Brooklyn.
The Wolverines made an emphatic statement on defense in the first quarter with nine defensive rebounds, forcing nine turnovers and five steals while only allowing seven points.
The first quarter was dominated by senior forward Emily Kiser, who set the tone by collecting six of the Wolverines 13 rebounds.
“(Emily) has such a high basketball IQ,” junior guard Maddie Nolan said. “You have seen it over the past couple years when she’s come in and take charges. We always know, if I get that back, Emily’s gonna be there to help us. It’s huge to have that trust in your teammate.”
The Terriers had no answer for Michigan’s defense as they shot 2-for-11 from the field in the first quarter. Their strong defense allowed them to score eight points off turnovers in the quarter, which was more than St. Francis Brooklyn’s entire first quarter scoring.
In the second quarter, the Terriers shot back to back threes in the first two minutes. It appeared as if St. Francis Brooklyn was finding some traction. This was not the case, however, as the Wolverines continued their strong defensive performance from the first quarter.
The Terriers then failed to find the bucket by going scoreless for 5:19 minutes. It was during that period, then, that Sollom came up with her massive block.
“It was great that the freshmen got minutes,” Kiser said. “It’s really great to get that experience early on. I’m always excited to see them do well.”
The Wolverines defense continued to be a problem for St. Francis Brooklyn as they only scored nine points in the second quarter, shooting 3-for-17.
“I was really happy with the way that we set the tone and establish ourselves and were able to defend especially earlier,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said.
The Wolverines would enter halftime leading 49-16.
Coming out after halftime, Michigan continued playing tough defense only allowing four points in the first six minutes of the third quarter. Kiser continued her dominance of the defensive side of the court, coming up with back-to-back defensive rebounds.
“When you’re playing a smaller opponent, you want to still play true to you,” Kiser said.
Despite the strong first half defensive performance, the Wolverines’ stiff defense was eventually wilted as they reached deeper into their bench. The Terriers managed to score 11 points in the final four minutes of the third quarter.
“We’re just trying to really be aggressive,” Kiser said. “I think we did that, it’s just sustaining it for the full 40 minutes. We want to keep improving for sure.”
Added Barnes Arico: “It’s something that we’ve worked on a lot since the IUPUI game. It’s been a point of emphasis even for all fifteen of us, not just for our starting group. If you want to come in, if you want to contribute, if you want to help us you got to play on the defensive end.”