Junior guard Maddie Nolan fired a three pointer from the left wing. It splashed through the net, helping the Wolverines jump out to a quick 9-3 lead against the Grand Valley State Lakers.
Nolan’s three was the third in four straight attempts for Michigan that found the mark. The impressive shooting performance from the eleventh-ranked Wolverines helped put away the Lakers at home Thursday night in an exhibition game, 80-57.
Michigan came out of the gate on fire from the 3-point line in the first quarter. The Lakers’ 2-3 zone was getting picked apart, and the Wolverines’ shooters showed no hesitation in letting it fly from deep. Michigan started the game 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
The Wolverines’ hot shooting continued over the course of the game. They finished the game with 10 made 3-pointers on 20 attempts. It was a very efficient showing from behind the arc.
“I actually think it’s sustainable, or else I would be telling them not to shoot it,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “I think we have some really good 3-point shooters.”
With 4:40 left in the first quarter, senior forward Naz Hillmon surveyed the floor from the top of the key. She decided to shoot from a few feet behind the arc. The ball effortlessly glided through the net, sending the Crisler Center crowd into an uproar.Hillmon showed off her newfound 3-point range once more, draining a deep three in the second quarter. Hillmon started off shaky after missing her first two field goals, but quickly found her rhythm, finishing with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
“It was definitely a confidence booster. Right now I’m going to have a lot of space because people aren’t expecting me to shoot it,” Hillmon said. “Once you see the ball go in, it’s like I’m going to shoot another one and a couple more. Tonight you saw a little bit of that. I think that’s definitely a positive moving forward.”
Junior guard Michelle Sidor was another of the Wolverines who found her groove from range. She managed to make three of her four 3-pointers in 18 minutes on the floor.
Michigan’s defense was solid throughout the course of the game, and looked disciplined. This defensive discipline was shown when, with 6:11 left in the second quarter, freshman wing Jordan Hobbs made sure to set her feet as she slid across the paint, successfully drawing a charge. Sophomore wing Elise Stuck drew a charge of her own later in the game as well.
“We want to win the 50/50 balls. We want to do the intangible things and Jordan, as a freshman, is not accustomed to having to do that,” Barnes Arico said. “She made a big play and I thought that was really exciting for us. Elise Stuck took one too, and we get really excited for making those types of plays.”
But the Wolverines’ solid defensive showing did not meet their high expectations. After allowing just nine points in the first quarter, they went on to allow 13 or more in the remaining three quarters and racked up 13 fouls over the course of the game.
“We’ve got to be able to get defensive stops,” Barnes Arico said. “I thought they scored way too many easy buckets. I thought we fouled them and bailed them out. So we’ve got to be able to play defense, one-on-one defense, without fouling.”
Regardless, the Wolverines did exactly what they should have in an exhibition against inferior opposition. Not only did they take care of business on the scoreboard, but they did the little things right. From drawing charges to finding the open shooter, the Wolverines were on top of their game.