Even when it looks like an off night for junior guard Katelynn Flaherty, she finds a way to put those thoughts to bed.
Despite starting 1-for-10 from the field during Tuesday’s win against Ohio, Flaherty found her stroke in the second half to finish the game with 25 points, tie her season-high and continue her streak of scoring in double figures every game this season.
Against a lowly Vermont (3-6), which is 176th in the country in 3-point defense, the Michigan women’s basketball team should expect to see Flaherty’s scoring ability from wire to wire this time.
The Wolverines (9-3) are coming off a win against Ohio that not only featured another stellar performance from Flaherty, but senior point guard Siera Thompson’s second double-double in three games and Michigan’s third-best rebounding performance in program history (63).
“I was surprised about that stat,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “Our players really followed the scouting report, led by Siera Thompson who had to guard their best player. … We gave a great defensive effort. Our rebounds led to our transition, that led us to score in the second half and build that lead.”
For Saturday’s game, the two teams could not be more different on offense. The Catamounts, who are coming off losses to Temple and Brown, are one of the worst offensive teams in the country, averaging 55.6 points per game. The Wolverines, on the other hand, are averaging 81.2 points per game — good for 22nd nationally.
Part of Vermont’s lack of production comes from its weakness on the glass, where it also sits in the bottom half of the NCAA.
When the Catamounts are putting the ball in the net, it is typically through guard Sydney Smith and forward Candice Wright, who average 10.4 and 9.9 points a game, respectively.
Like many of the Wolverines’ early matchups, this is a game that should be decided early and, according to Barnes Arico, provides a good opportunity for the freshmen guards to step in and get more reps.
“(Vermont) plays extremely hard,” Barnes Arico said. “They’re a young team. Every challenge is going to be an opportunity to get better. Another chance to play at home.”
Behind Kysre Gondrezick — who has mainly been used as a 3-point threat — Kayla Robbins has also shined amongst the freshman as an asset on the glass. Lately, Robbins has earned critical playing time, even in close contests.
With sophomore guard Boogie Brozoski’s decision to leave Michigan and transfer elsewhere, one of the biggest questions to be answered during Saturday’s game and beyond is who will replace her production at the “1” spot. The matchup with the Catamounts could be an opportunity for Barnes Arico to dig into her bench to find Brozoski’s replacement in the rotation.