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After watching a Rutgers pull-up jumper drop through the net with just over eight minutes to go in the first half, shrinking the Scarlet Knights’ deficit to just three points, Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico called timeout.

During the break, Barnes Arico focused her discussion around stepping up the team’s defense and taking away Rutgers’ strengths in an effort to reclaim control of the game.

And coming out of the huddle, the Wolverines went on a 7-0 run and never looked back — reclaiming control of the game instantly.

“I was really unhappy with the way that we were defending,” Barnes Arico said. “We weren’t all on the same page, and I thought it was really important that we all get on the same page and dial up our defense.”

Michigan’s adjustments began to impact the game immediately. After graduate forward Emily Kiser kickstarted the turnaround series with a layup, the Wolverines tracked back on defense to force an air-balled 3-point attempt from the Scarlet Knights. 

On the following Rutgers possession, Kiser aggressively guarded the basket and forced an off-target layup — exemplifying just the type of defense that Barnes Arico urged her team to play. Translating defense into offense, Kiser responded on the other end of the court with an emphatic 3-pointer, extending Michigan’s lead to 26-18 with six minutes left in the half.

From there, the Wolverines continued to lock down on defense, forcing a Scarlet Knights shot clock violation and securing a steal on the next possession. To cap off the series, fifth-year wing Leigha Brown snaked a pass to sophomore guard Laila Phelia on a back-door cut for another two points, forcing a Rutgers timeout and setting the tone for the rest of the contest.

“The big thing that Coach was just harping on (in the timeout) was taking away their strengths because we were kind of nervous, we were playing them straight up,” Phelia said. “So we finally went ahead and did that and I felt like that really got us back into it.”

Heading into the locker room at halftime with a 41-30 advantage, Michigan continued demonstrating the adjustments that emerged from that second-quarter timeout — extending its lead to 23 by the final buzzer. 

In the process, the Wolverines held Rutgers to a measly 32.1% from the field in the second half. In particular, Michigan doubled down around the basket, allowing the Scarlet Knights just six points in the paint throughout the final 20 minutes.

Not only did the Wolverines lock down the key on defense, but they extended that dominance onto the other end of the court, too, scoring 44 points in the paint — 22 of which came in the second half. 


“Just finding the post, the seal passes, scoring a couple (and) getting a couple stops — it definitely helped us on our run,” Phelia said.

Against a struggling Rutgers squad, Michigan was able to rely on timeout adjustments to salvage its command of the contest and head back to Ann Arbor with its first-ever win in Piscataway. However, with two top-15 matchups against Indiana and Maryland on the docket, falling into a mid-game rut could be the dagger in a tight, high-stakes clash.

Against Rutgers, they quickly turned that second-quarter slump around — and that’s why they strutted out of the RAC with a win.