The Michigan women’s basketball team would not have beaten Western Michigan by 26 points without senior guard Siera Thompson. In fact, without her 16 points, six assists, and four defensive rebounds, it might not have won the game at all.
As a co-captain and one of two seniors on the team, Thompson has been an important leader for the Wolverines (4-0) all year. But before Monday, they hadn’t needed her to dominate. With three wins in three games — racking up more than 100 points in each — Michigan was content with spreading out playing time, not requiring Thompson to be anything more than consistent.
But against a more competitive Western Michigan team, things changed. The Wolverines looked shaky during the first quarter after the Broncos were leading, 13-12, and needed Thompson to come through on their behalf. She delivered, leading the team in points.
“She’s definitely increased her leadership role this year,” said sophomore forward Hallie Thome. “So having her come out and have these nights is definitely exciting to see, because it’s well deserved. All of her hard work over these four years is paying off.”
Added Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico: “Siera Thompson was solid throughout … She has to always play the other team’s best player and she has to handle the ball for us. She did a great job. She made some plays, she kept us in the game in the first half and then we were able to rest her for a couple minutes in the second half.”
In addition to starting every quarter, Thompson stayed on the court for the entire first half of the game, playing two full ten-minute quarters. She drained three 3-pointers during the evening, closing the gap to becoming the Wolverines’ all time 3-point leader. She is now trailing the record by just two.
Thompson had opportunities to try and beat that record tonight, but she chose to take the safer route. On several occasions, despite having plenty of time, she took a step or two inside the three-point arc in order to make things easier, instead of attempting to pad her personal statistics.
“She’s so experienced,” Barnes-Arico said. “She knows best shot compared to first shot. I think some of our younger kids, especially the freshmen, feel like the first shot they get is the one that has got to go up. (Thompson) is experienced enough to know that my percentage is going to drastically increase the closer I get to the basket. So if I can step in and make a shot, it’s better than me staying where I am and missing a shot.”
When she did decide to shoot for three, she chose wisely. Her 3-point field goal percentage was 50 percent, Michigan’s highest. The Wolverine’s leading scorer, junior guard Katelynn Flaherty, had 18 percent, in comparison.
“I think my role on the team is to impact the game in any way I can,” Thompson said. “I know if other people are struggling, I can step up and score. I just try to do whatever it takes to have our team win, and that’s what I had to do tonight.”
It may be the first time this season that Thompson has filled up the box score, but according to her coach, she is always making a difference.
“I never think we’ll win any game without Siera Thompson,” Barnes Arico said. “I said that in my pregame chalk talk to our season ticket holders. I said ‘I know it’s kind of early to be thinking about this, but when I lay awake sometimes at night, I think about her graduating, and how much of a void that’s going to leave in our program, because of what she’s meant to our program in the last four years.’ ”