After a devastating overtime loss to Ohio State on Jan. 7, the No. 19 Michigan women’s basketball came back with a vengeance.
A few short days after the loss, the Wolverines beat Indiana, 84-79. They followed with an exciting overtime victory over Nebraska. And on Tuesday, Michigan got its chance to rematch the Buckeyes.
The game was close, as the Buckeyes had the lead at the half. But in an exciting play in which junior guard Nicole Munger played point guard and set up senior guard Katelyn Flaherty for a three-pointer late in the third quarter gave Michigan the lead, which it held onto for the remainder of the game.
The Wolverines are on top of the world after bouncing back and hope to continue their winning streak against Illinois at Crisler Center at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Hallie Thome has hit her stride the past few games. She played a key role in the first matchup against Ohio State, even though the Wolverines came up short. In the last game against the Buckeyes, Thome had 11 rebounds, becoming the 16th Wolverine in program history with over 600 rebounds.
“It’s really important for us to take it one game at a time,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico to WTKA. “Obviously we’re excited about those two top-25 victories but we have to concern ourselves with Illinois because I think the most important piece of all this is that our league has tremendously improved.”
This is Nancy Fahey’s first season coaching Illinois and she has an overall record of 9-11 and a conference record of 0-6. The Fighting Ilini’s leading scorer is junior forward Alex Wittinger who has scored 277 points on the season. Another player to watch out for is sophomore Brandi Beasley, who tied her career high of 19 points against the Spartans on Jan. 16 and has 244 points on the season.
Even though Illinois is winless in Big Ten play, Barnes Arico still wants her team to be prepared for anything because the league has improved a lot since last season.
“The bottom two teams didn’t have any road wins last year and maybe six total wins and now one was most recently in the top 25, Rutgers,” Barnes Arico said. “And the second one, Nebraska, played us into overtime and beat ranked Iowa last night, so I think our league is better than it’s ever been.”
In its most recent game against Michigan State, Illinois took the lead early on in the first quarter but the Spartans fought back. Though Illinois held them to just one field goal in the fourth quarter, it was not enough to close the gap and the Spartans came out victorious.
“Illinois is a team that is a really improved team as well,” Barnes Arico said. “They played Michigan State last night in a tough game, and we know they’re going to be a challenge and I think it’s really important for our team to be focused on Illinois.”