Guard Diamond Miller drove at the Michigan defense early in the first quarter to convert a second-straight bucket for the Terrapin offense, forcing the Wolverines to call an early timeout and sort out their defensive strategy. It didn’t work.
No. 12 Michigan (13-4 overall, 8-4 Big Ten) couldn’t challenge No. 4 Maryland (20-2 overall, 16-1 Big Ten) in a rescheduled matchup, as the Wolverines lost 88-63. The tone was set from the start. In the first five minutes, Michigan went 3-for-8 from the field while the Terrapins went 6-for-7. Maryland played with speed and intensity from the jump, dominating the Wolverines’ defense in the paint.
Junior Leigha Brown provided the Wolverines with a spark throughout the first half, scoring nine points and earning three rebounds, but that was about the only positive. Michigan’s poor shooting continued till the end of quarter, shooting 42.9% and going 1-for-6 from the 3-point line.
Turning the ball over continued to deepen the Wolverine’s scoring deficit. Whether it was sloppy passes around the arc, giving the ball away in their own half or missing open shots in the paint, the team turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter. Maryland’s full court press sped up the pace of the game and Michigan was too slow to react.
“You have to come out and figure it out,” junior forward Naz Hillmon said. “If it’s not on the first possession, the second or the third. It didn’t help us down the stretch. Later in the game, we figured it out and got our wits about us. But we did know that (high pressure) was coming.”
The Wolverines showed progress in the second quarter. Quick passing helped the team play out of the full court press. The Terrapins didn’t score in the paint in the first four minutes, and the margin between the teams narrowed to 10 points early in the quarter. Yet, Michigan still found themselves down 26-46 going into half time.
Poor shooting continued into the third quarter. The Wolverines shot 46.7% from the field and knocked down one lonely 3-pointer. Shooting from behind the arc has been a weakness for the Wolverines ever since the 14-day pause. Senior guard Hailey Brown went 2-for-6 from the 3-point line, still searching to find her shooting form.
“We practice (shooting) every day,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “Once you have a couple bad shooting nights, it messes with your confidence. We need to get the confidence back.”
Hillmon carried Michigan’s remaining momentum, ending the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Terrapins packed the paint, limiting Hillmon’s touches. With the Wolverines not making their outside shots, Maryland continued to pack all five defenders around Hillmon.
The damage was already done by the fourth quarter as the Terrapins had outplayed Michigan on both sides of the ball, out scoring them every quarter. In an effort to slow down the game, the Wolverines fouled and brought Maryland to the line — a method that didn’t work in Michigan’s favor as the Terrapins ended the game going 21-for-30 from the line.
“At the end of the day, you have to perform,” Barnes Arico said. “Life in the power five (means) you have to perform and you have to be able to do it. We’re practicing it, we’re pumping them up, we’re building them up, we’re remaining positive.”
In a matchup that presented its toughest opponent, Michigan’s poor shooting form and inability to match the high press ultimately led to their defeat. With a trip to Indianapolis on the horizon, the Wolverines have more than a few unscrewed bolts to sort out before their first game in the Big Ten Tournament.