Unable to feed the ball to Hallie Thome, Amy Dilk turned toward the baseline and put up a floater. Before it could reach the rim though, Maryland’s Shakira Austin swatted it away.
Still down by one with just 1.5 seconds remaining in what had been a chaotic fourth quarter, Michigan was faced with a difficult inbounds play under the basket.
Thome crashed to the block in hopes of a quick layup attempt. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the senior center couldn’t handle the pass. As the ball bounced away from her, so, too, did the opportunity to play in the program’s first ever Big Ten Tournament final.
In the end, the Michigan women’s basketball team (21-11 overall, 11-7 Big Ten) suffered a narrow defeat, 73-72, at the hands of the top-seeded Terrapins (28-3, 15-3).
The Wolverines’ offense revolved around senior guard Nicole Munger all night long. Within the first four minutes, Munger had knocked down two three-pointers and scored eight points.
Thanks in large part to its own sharpshooters, Maryland matched Michigan’s offensive output early on. Freshman point guard Taylor Mikesell — a 43.1-percent three-point shooter — and junior guard Blair Watson hit three from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
The Wolverines managed to limit the Terrapins’ leading scorer, All-Big Ten First Team selection Kaila Charles, to just four points in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, both teams continued their prolific shooting from deep. Sophomore forward Hailey Brown supplied the hot-hand for Michigan with two three-pointers. Not to be outdone, Watson hit two herself.
With minutes remaining in the first half, the Wolverines employed their full-court press. Maryland struggled to adjust, turning the ball over four times in the last three minutes. Michigan took a 40-37 lead into the locker room.
Despite the Wolverines extending their lead to six following another Brown three-pointer, the Terrapins caught fire in the third quarter — shooting 11-of-16 from the field. Charles led the way with seven of her 22 points.
Maryland’s efficient third quarter forced Michigan to mount a comeback in the final frame. On the back of Munger, the Wolverines did exactly that.
Munger, who finished 20 points on 5-6 shooting from three-point range, hit two contested threes to keep Michigan within reach.
Sophomore guard Deja Church continued the run midway through the quarter with a strong finish at the rim with the shot clock winding down.
With a minute remaining, Munger momentarily completed the comeback by knocking down another three.
“I thought we did a great job of executing in the fourth quarter,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “We were really confident in our offense. Nicole was hitting big shots. I just thought our kids were locked in.”
The Terrapins regained control with ten seconds left, though. Fighting through a screen, freshman forward Naz Hillmon fouled Charles on an inbounds play. The Terrapin guard hit both from the line, giving Maryland a one-point advantage it wouldn’t relinquish.
“One of our goals coming into the season was to win a Big Ten Championship,” Barnes Arico said. “We thought we put ourselves in a position to do that tonight but just fell a little bit short. I’m proud of this team though and proud of the way we fought back.”