The sixth-ranked Wolverines got the best of the fifth-ranked Hoosiers in last night’s Big Ten heavyweight bout. Michigan took sole possession of first place in the conference with the victory, while Teri Moren’s squad drops into second at 6-1 in league play. Here are three reasons why Indiana’s 9-game win streak snapped up in Ann Arbor:
Slow starts to each half
Conference play is all about getting into a rhythm, which is really hard to do when you go 15 days between games.
At first, IU looked like a team that hadn’t played in two weeks. Michigan jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the game’s first two minutes and forced an early timeout from Teri Moren. Coming out of the break however, the Hoosiers showcased their poise, and a Grace Berger jumper stopped the bleeding. IU kept pace with UM for the next seven minutes, until a Nicole Cardaño-Hillary steal led to an Aleksa Gulbe jumper that trimmed the Wolverine lead to five points to end the 1st. Clawing out of a hole against a top-ten team is no easy feat, but the Hoosiers made it happen with a great 2nd quarter, entering halftime down just 32-30.
Here’s the thing about teams like Michigan, you can claw your way out of a hole against them once, but taking a second lapse in stellar play will get you buried, and that’s what happened to the Hoosiers. IU came out of the break flat, losing the 3rd quarter 16-6 and finding itself down 12 with 10 minutes left. Circumstances definitely played a factor in the way this game went, but the importance of staying locked in for 40 continuous minutes must be noted. Indiana should use last night as a learning experience, they’ll likely see Michigan again in March.
Michigan controlled the paint
Indiana has been without Junior Mackenzie Holmes since she suffered a knee injury during the Hoosiers January 5th victory at Wisconsin. The team has gotten by without her in games since (including their galvanizing comeback win at Purdue), but they really seemed to be missing their Wooden Award Watchlist Forward Monday night. Michigan dominated IU on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 52-20. The Wolverines averaged a second chance point per offensive rebound (14/14), while the Hoosiers failed to score off of just 5 offensive boards.
Michigan Forward Emily Kiser recorded a game-high 16 rebounds, and it’s not a stretch to say that Holmes and her extensive reach could’ve helped tilt the court back towards IU. The All-League defender’s injury timetable is unknown, but fans are hoping that 54 doesn’t miss extended time. Big tests against Iowa and at Maryland loom before the conference tournament next month.
Couldn’t break Michigan’s defense
The Wolverines top-rated defense is as good as advertised. UM held IU to just 50 points, the Hoosiers lowest scoring total of the season. Despite solid scoring performances from Nicole Cardaño-Hillary (16 pts), Grace Berger (13), and Ali Patberg (10), Indiana failed to get good looks consistently. The Cream and Crimson shot just 33% from the field, including a rough 3rd quarter in which they made only 3 of their 12 shots. The poor shooting is especially frustrating when considering Indiana’s own defensive performance, tallying 14 steals and forcing Michigan into 25 turnovers.
NCH’s 8 steals were a season high for the graduate guard, who was all over the court for the Hoosiers defensively. The Energizer Bunny and Co. will look to get a little more going offensively Thursday night when Minnesota pays a visit to Assembly Hall.