If there were any question as to Siera Thompson’s role on the Michigan women’s basketball team, one look at the stat sheet Tuesday would leave no doubt. The junior guard was the hub of the Wolverines’ offense, dishing out assists left and right, and in the WNIT third round, she added to that legacy.
In the final three minutes of the first quarter of Michigan’s game against San Diego, two assists from Thompson to sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty pushed Thompson to 168 on the season and gave her sole possession of the Wolverines’ single-season record in the category.
“The way she controls the game for our team and the way she finds her teammates and the way she’s so unselfish in passing up open shots to make an easier shot and to make a pass is incredible,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I just think she’s our floor leader and has an unbelievable amount of confidence with the basketball in her hands.”
The assists record was previously held by guard Jenny Ryan, who totaled 167 assists in the 2012-13 season. Ryan went on to finish her time at Michigan ranking second on the program’s career list.
Along with her knack for finding open teammates and getting them the ball in a position to score, Thompson can step up and score when she needs to. She led the team with 19- and 20-point performances in the first two WNIT games.
“I think that’s my maturity level over the years,” Thompson said. “I know, as a freshman, if I didn’t score as many points, I would be down or not be as effective on the court, and I think I’ve learned that it’s not about me, it’s about the team. So however I can help the team win, if that’s getting assists or stops, it doesn’t always have to be scoring for me.”
Thompson’s five assists on the night led the Wolverines, who totaled 20 in the contest and ended the game with 578 on the season, surpassing the team’s 2014-15 season total and program record of 570. Flaherty and senior guard Madison Ristovski were just behind Thompson with four assists each against the Toreros.
“We definitely work on extra passes, just having the open shot and not the contested shot,” Thompson said. “We work on that as guards. I know the guard group works on that all the time, driving and kicking it, looking for open people.”
The team has greatly benefited this season from its ability to get the ball to a variety of different scoring options, led by Flaherty, who surpassed 100 made 3-pointers on the season on Tuesday, and freshman center Hallie Thome, who was averaging 15.5 points per game this postseason heading into Tuesday’s game.
“I think that our assists are at a higher level because we have multiple people that can score the basketball,” Barnes Arico said. “And people are trying to make extra passes and find their teammates.”