At every Michigan women’s basketball game, during a timeout, a previously conducted interview of a Wolverine is displayed on the Crisler Center video board. One of the questions asked is“What is your favorite Michigan basketball memory?”
Nearly every non-freshman Wolverine this season thus far has responded with last year’s overtime win against Ohio State.
Thursday, Michigan had another opportunity to make a lasting memory against the seventh-ranked Buckeyes, but the Wolverines ultimately fell, 97-93.
Ohio State’s full-court press was relentless from the opening tip, as it stole two inbound passes, pushing its lead to eight about four minutes into the first quarter. After another Buckeye steal and score, Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico was forced to call a timeout with Ohio State up 10. Bolstered by suffocating defense, the Buckeyes took a 31-17 lead into the second quarter.
“Sometimes the tempo of the game can always change, depending on what team has the momentum,” said senior guard Madison Ristovski. “So we just have to stay within ourselves and play basketball the Michigan way (when Ohio State is on a run).”
About two minutes into the frame, Ristovski inbounded the ball and knew she was close to a five-second violation. She hastily tossed the ball, and the Buckeyes’ Kelsey Mitchell leaped for the steal and turned it into a quick layup to give her team a 15-point lead for her 17th point of the game.
With 6:51 left in the quarter, sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty knocked down a 3-pointer after starting the contest 1-for-7 from the floor. After Ristovski knocked down two straight 3-pointers nearing the end of the quarter, Ohio State’s Mitchell knocked down one of her own to continue her torrid scoring pace as she finished with 27 in the scoring column.
Despite Mitchell’s prowess, the Wolverines trailed by just seven going into the half, 49-42. Michigan also has a Kelsey Mitchell on its roster, and the Wolverines’ senior forward led the team with 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting at the half.
The third quarter started off with scorching-hot shooting. After Flaherty drained a 3-pointer to cut the lead back to seven with six minutes left in the quarter, the Buckeyes were shooting 9-for-13 from behind the arc.
“Every time we made a great run, they had an answer to it,” Barnes Arico said. “That’s a sign of a top team in the country.”
Shortly after, Ohio State sunk another trey, forcing Barnes Arico to call a time out with 4:05 left in the quarter, down by 12. With just under two minutes left in the frame, the Buckeyes cut off Michigan’s growing momentum by holding the ball for a full minute due to three offensive rebounds. They ended the possession with a layup and another 3-pointer by Mitchell, carrying a 12-point advantage into the final 10 minutes.
Junior guard Siera Thompson started the fourth quarter with a jumper. Freshman guard Boogie Brozoski later hit a 3-pointer and sophomore forward Jillian Dunston took a charge on the ensuing possession in an attempt to gain momentum. Brozoski, however, turned the ball over trying to rifle a pass into the paint, leading to another Ohio State basket.
After a timeout, Flaherty — who scored a team-high 22 points — made another shot from behind the arc, only to have the Buckeyes halt the run with two baskets. Ohio State continued to show its strength on defense, blocking freshman center Hallie Thome and stealing another inbound pass.
The Wolverines forced a turnover at half court with 2:42 left in the contest, and Thome capped off the possession with a layup to cut the lead to nine. About a minute later, Thome sunk a free throw to complete an and-1, trimming the deficit to five.
“We have a no-give-up mentality,” Thompson said. “We know we can play with any team in this conference, so that’s our mindset going into every game.”
Michigan forced the Buckeyes to miss a shot with the shot clock winding down in the next possession, but Ohio State grabbed the offensive rebound. After a foul, Ohio State guard Ameryst Alston hit one of her two free throws to push the lead to six. When the Wolverines got the ball, Thompson was also fouled, and knocked down both of her attempts from the charity stripe cutting it to just a four-point difference.
Michigan came within three points of the Buckeyes, but it couldn’t play catch up after Ohio State was nearly perfect from the free throw line down the stretch.
“In the locker room, we talked about the ability to keep fighting and keep fighting,” Barnes Arico said. “We believe that if we keep improving and we keep plugging along, that these games are going to go our way.”