The 3-seeded Wolverines advanced to the Round of 32 after thrashing 14-seed American University, 74-39.
Michigan was rather dominant for the majority of the game. After starting out slow going 2-for-9 from the field to begin the game, the Wolverines used a 28-5 second quarter to cruise to an easy victory over the Eagles.
With the win, Michigan improves to 15-0 at home and will take on the 11 seed Villanova at the Crisler Center on Monday.
Here are a few takeaways from the blowout victory.
Naz Hillmon makes life easy for herself before getting the ball in the post
We’ve written about Hillmon a few times this year, as the future WNBA player did a great establishing positioning in this game and dominating in the paint.
The senior forward outscored American University by herself in the first half (17-13), thriving on both ends and never letting the Eagles climb back into the game.
Hillmon has a great feel for when to post up and does a great job positioning herself in the paint so that when she does get the ball, she can catch and make a quick move.
Hillmon doesn’t really have any complex post moves, she just uses sheer strength and bursts of quickness to make decisive moves towards the rim.
Coaches who focus on post play should show plays like this to their young forwards, as she had some textbook footwork in this one.
She was really feeling herself in that second quarter, using quick hands on defense and even leading the fast break at one point.
Michigan has a solid squad without Hillmon, but her steady interior presence is the main reason why it is a dark horse title pick.
Michigan dominated the interior
Hillmon led all players in scoring and rebounding (24 points, 11 rebounds), but she wasn’t the only one able to thrive on the inside to help Michigan cruise to a win.
The Wolverines rebounded well as a team, outrebounding the Eagles 41-35 and winning the effort battle when fighting for missed shots on both ends.
Emily Kiser had an impressive game as well, scoring 13 points and getting great positioning inside for a few easy buckets.
Kiser complements Hillmon well as the other post in the starting lineup. Kiser can step out and hit a three when defenses are focused on the All-American.
Michigan made life hell for American with suffocating defense
Michigan got out of its cold offensive start by getting easy buckets in transition, capitalizing on turnovers it forced the Eagles to make.
American could never get into a rhythm against the Wolverines since it couldn’t take care of the ball, with the Wolverines nabbing 11 steals, including nine in the first 12 and a half minutes
Junior guard Maddie Nolan was especially good at that and collapsing on ball handlers once they got to the paint.
Nolan, Hillmon, Kiser and freshman guard Laila Phelia combined for nine steals and thrived against the best team out of the Patriot League.
The Wolverines can’t expect to get double-digit steals every game but in order to make a run, they need to stay aggressive on defense and make life easy with transition buckets as teams bring more attention towards Hillmon in the half court offense.