In the midst of a back-and-forth sequence, Indiana regained control.
First, having found space on the wing, Hoosier guard Jaelynn Penn knocked down a 3-pointer. Moments later, following a turnover by Michigan’s freshman point guard Amy Dilk, it was Ali Patberg converting a baseline floater on the other end for Indiana.
That 30-second sequence seemed to encapsulate the game as a whole. Despite making multiple runs to keep the game close, the Wolverines (12-8 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) just never took command, ultimately losing to the Hoosiers (16-4, 5-3) on the road, 70-60.
From the start, Indiana dictated the tempo of the contest. It jumped out to a five-point lead and built on it as the quarter progressed. Three-pointers from Penn and Brenna Wise pushed its lead to eight with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
To Michigan’s credit, it fought its way back thanks in large part to the play of sophomore forward Hailey Brown. Down just six entering the second quarter, Brown scored five quick points — including a three from the top of the key.
From that point on, the game was played at lightning speed. Penn’s second 3-pointer of the game was matched by senior guard Nicole Munger. The Wolverines’ sharpshooter — who was 1-16 from beyond the arc in Big Ten away games entering Thursday — found her target again later in the quarter to pull Michigan within two. Following the Hoosiers’ quick five-point burst, freshman forward Naz Hillmon converted two contested layups — foreshadowing things to come — to cut Indiana’s lead to just three at the half.
The Hoosiers however, came out of the break firing on all cylinders. Off of a defensive rebound, Penn raced down the floor and finished at the rim. Another jumper from Patberg and an open three-pointer from the corner gave Indiana even more breathing room.
In customary fashion though, the Wolverines closed the gap. From a double-team, senior center Hallie Thome skillfully found Dilk, crashing toward the basket for an easy layup. Hillmon, then, went to work in the paint — gathering an offensive rebound and finishing down-low on multiple occasions.
And yet, every time Michigan seemed to regain its footing, the Hoosiers answered accordingly. During one exchange at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Dilk received a pass in transition and had a clear path toward the rim. Out of nowhere Indiana’s Bendu Yeaney sprinted down the floor and stripped the ball out of Dilk’s unsuspecting hands.
“Kinda seemed like they were first to the loose-balls all night,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “Even when we got a steal early on, we gave it right back to them. The ball was going through our hands early on.”
The dagger came with a minute left in the fourth quarter. Since Thome was dominating inside defensively — finishing with five blocks — the Hoosiers had to hit from the outside. Penn did exactly that — finding space on the right wing and drilling the 20-footer to bring her final point total to 28.
The Wolverines fought valiantly, but their scoreless final three minutes and Indiana’s ability to make plays when they had to, in the end, resulted in another away defeat, pushing their road record to 2-7.
“We got really good looks,” Barnes Arico said. “That’s the thing — we ran stuff in our offense, we got looks in our offense and they just didn’t go in. And they made ten threes, so they shot the ball incredibly well all night.”