For much of the season, the Michigan women’s basketball team has found a large part of its offensive production from its two bigs, Hallie Thome and Naz Hillmon.
The senior and freshman each entered the Gulf Coast Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. averaging 18 points per game and further solidified their roles as the team’s top offensive options.
However, on a weekend in which the Wolverines finished 2-1 and knocked off No. 21 Missouri and Washington, it was the supporting cast that took over and helped spark the offense. In Friday’s win against the Tigers, sophomore guard Deja Church ignited Michigan with a career-high 15 points and dominated on the defensive side, leaving Missouri’s leading scorer Sophie Cunningham scoreless in the first half. Church also produced the game’s biggest highlight, swishing a buzzer beater from the opposite free-throw line to end the first half and put the Wolverines up by 23 heading into the break.
“It was just her day on our night,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico.
Saturday, the Wolverines suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of No. 10 Texas in a 69-52 drubbing, setting up a matchup with the Washington Huskies to close out the weekend.
Despite their 3-3 record, the Huskies proved to be a pesky foe, playing Michigan close until the final buzzer. They managed to shut down Thome and Hillmon, holding them to 13 and seven points, respectively.
However, Nicole Munger had other ideas. The senior caught fire, scoring 27 points and nailing a career-high seven 3-pointers, including two late in the fourth quarter to stifle Washington’s last-gasp comeback attempt.
While the senior was sensational on Sunday, Michigan’s prized freshman point guard was just as impressive. Amy Dilk turned in the best performance of her young career. She scored 19 points, dished out seven assists, and hauled in nine rebounds, including three on the offensive end. She also converted on a layup in the final minutes to push the Wolverine lead to 10 and finally put the Huskies to bed.
While Michigan was unable to win all three of its games during its stay down south, it was able to finish the weekend with far more answers than questions. While most games this season have been highlighted by Thome or Hillmon, the team’s most recent three-game slate saw balanced scoring in both wins, with a whopping seven players scoring in double figures on Sunday.
“I think that speaks to the strength of our team,” Barnes Arico said.
Arguably the biggest strength on display this weekend was the team’s chemistry. Even in games where players like Church or Munger dominated, seemingly everyone found a way to contribute in some capacity, and their unselfishness allowed for everyone to have a moment to shine, a trend that should hopefully continue as the season progresses. It is enough to have Barnes Arico as positive as ever about her team.
“I really enjoy being with our team probably more than any team I’ve ever coached,” she said.