DETROIT — Opponents haven’t found an answer yet for the Michigan women’s basketball team’s newest center, and 6-foot-5 freshman Hallie Thome hopes to keep it that way.
Thome and Michigan (2-0) fought for their 88-61 win at Detroit on Sunday, but it came far tougher than first game of the weekend. Sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty beared a four-foul burden most of the second half, but Michigan spread the wealth, turning to Thome down in the paint.
Because Thome towered above her shorter opponents — she was listed as at least five inches taller than every Titan — it was easy for the Wolverine guards to feed her over the top, where she swiveled and finished for six points by the end of the opening quarter, and 10 by halftime.
“Different than yesterday, right?” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “Our guards dominated yesterday (against Binghamton). It was nice to see our bigs get some touches and establish an inside presence early. It was nice to see (Thome) have a great game.”
Added senior guard Madison Ristovski: “(Thome) is making a positive impact already to the defense. She’s got great hands, and she can finish really well around the rim. She’s someone I can throw the ball to and know will catch and finish.”
Detroit battled to hold the Wolverines’ lead to just three through the first quarter, but Michigan came out of the huddle in the same full-court press that shut down Binghamton the day before. The Wolverines swung an eight-point run in the first three minutes to build an 11-point lead, and they never looked back.
In that span, four turnovers from Detroit (0-2) doomed the Titans, who went on to give up 30 to Michigan in the second quarter. But despite the gritty, physical play from guard Rosanna Reynolds (19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) Detroit never looked capable of settling in.
Reynolds carried her side, but she faced foul trouble as well after she accidentally whacked Michigan freshman guard Nicole Munger across the mouth in the second quarter, giving the Wolverines a free basket from the line after the dead-ball foul.
The freshmen, Thome included, continued to shine as they had in the prior game. Late in the first half, guard Boogie Brozoski notched two of her six assists after the Titans continued to turn the ball over against the press.
Brozoski and Thome linked up much like they did in the preseason exhibition when the point guard tossed a lob halfway down the court out of every Titan’s reach to Thome, who laid in the basket. Sunday, Thome went 9-for-11 shooting with 21 points, adding three blocks and six rebounds to lead the Wolverines.
The matchup was also a family affair, as Ristovski dueled it out against her younger sisters, Detroit’s Haleigh and Lola Ristovski. Lola, the youngest of them all, finished the game with nine points, and Haleigh had five compared to Madison’s seven.
“I’m very happy Lola played well, but I also hit a 3 in her face, so I’ll remind her of that when she tells me she had more points than me,” Madison Ristovski said.
Carrying at least a 20-point lead most of the second half, Michigan walked out of Calihan Hall with its second consecutive win, but more importantly, it obtained even more evidence that Thome can be as good as advertised.