The Michigan Wolverines entered this past week’s AP top-25 Poll at No. 17 after their double-digit loss to No. 16 Iowa at home. They bounced back with two strong conference wins against Purdue on the road and Michigan State at home.
At Purdue last Tuesday night, the Wolverines capitalized on the Boilermakers’ slow start, going on a 13-2 run over the first six minutes of play. By the end of the first, Purdue pulled within five. The second quarter started off messy for both teams, with turnovers and missed shots bogging them down through the first three minutes. Michigan went scoreless for another two before forward Emily Kiser hit a pair of free throws with just under seven minutes left in the half. Plagued by scoring droughts that came in waves, Michigan eventually entered half up by four.
The Wolverines went on a run to open the second half, out-scoring the Boilermakers 12-2. Purdue continued to struggle with shooting and turnovers. The Wolverines really pulled away in the third quarter to enter the final 10 minutes up 16. With more hot shooting from Michigan in the fourth quarter, they beat the Boilermakers by 21.
Leigha Brown recorded 21 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Wolverines in this one. She went 2-for-4 on threes and shot 53% from the field. Both Kiser and guard Laila Phelia notched 17 points, with Kiser shooting 7-for-10 from the floor while collecting seven rebounds.
Four days later, the Wolverines hosted in-state rival Michigan State and sent the Spartans home with a 15-point loss after four Wolverines recorded double-digit scoring games.
Brown once again led the Wolverines with 17 points and six assists while shooting 6-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. Kiser recorded 14 and six rebounds. Guards Maddie Nolan and Phelia scored 10 and 12, respectively, while Nolan shot her way into the record books after sinking her 137th three-pointer.
Michigan State really struggled with shooting — 35% from the floor and 15% from three, while also committing 22 turnovers. Michigan was backed by 10,000 Michigan faithful, while shooting 43% from the floor and 45% from beyond the arc. With both wins secured, Michigan moves to 5-2 in Big Ten play and 15-3 overall.
Michigan heads to Piscataway on Thursday to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who sit at 2-5 in league play and 8-11 overall.
Rutgers is led by forward Kaylene Smikle, who averages 16.9 points while shooting 39% from the floor and 36% from three. Close behind is guard Awa Sidibe, who averages 10.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and a team-high 3.5 assists. Rutgers struggles to consistently string together strong offensive performances and will have to shoot lights out to hang around with the Wolverines.
Michigan won’t play again until next Monday when they host No. 6 Indiana at home for a huge Big Ten showdown in Ann Arbor. The Hoosiers sit at No. 2 in the conference with a 6-1 record in Big Ten play and a 16-1 record overall. Their lone loss was to Michigan State in East Lansing. Since then, they have been on a four-game winning streak, including a seven-point win over No. 9 Maryland.
Tip-off for Thursday’s matchup against Rutgers is at 8:30 p.m. on BTN.