The No. 13 Michigan Wolverines had a pretty tough home test Monday evening, hosting one of the best teams in the country in No. 6 Indiana. While a few big plays kept them in striking distance in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines ultimately fell to the Hoosiers, 92-83.
Indiana didn’t make it easy for the Wolverines, and head coach Kim Barnes Arico said the Wolverines have a lot to take away from this match-up.
“Sometimes you learn the most from your losses, and you really evaluate your team from your losses more than your wins,” Barnes Arico said. “So this will be a great opportunity to get their attention.”
Coming into this game, the Hoosiers won 9 of their last 10, and were 2nd in the Big Ten standings. They’re 18-1 on the year, with their sole loss coming to MSU in late December.
Here are some takeaways from the loss.
Michigan has got to improve on the boards
Much like the men’s basketball team, the woman’s team struggled rebounding the ball on both ends. They lost the battle on the boards (41-24) and gave up 14 offensive rebounds, including 8 in the first half.
The Hoosiers did a great job crashing the boards and capitalizing those added opportunities (14 second chance points). The Wolverines need to do a better job boxing out and grabbing those 50-50 balls.
A new career-high for Leigha Brown
Brown reminds me a lot of Mo Wagner; she plays with a lot of energy, gets red in the face as the game goes along, and she embraces the contact.
She finished with a career-high 31 points, was an ultra-efficient 11/15 from the field and did a great job driving to the hole and pulling up in mid-range. She helped this game from becoming a blowout in the second half, with 21 of her points coming in the final 20 minutes.
Post-game, she was frustrated with how often she turned the ball over. You could tell she was feeling it tonight, but she was fed up with the fact that her team couldn’t come away with the victory.
“Ultimately, I would have rather had 0 points and won,” Brown said. “I know I had a lot of turnovers in the first half, so just being able to take care of the ball a lot better and find ways to help my team win is all I care about at this point.”
Michigan has needed someone to step up from a scoring standpoint with no Naz Hillmon, and she’s certainly been up to the task.
No answer for Mackenzie Holmes
Holmes was pretty dominant on the inside, finishing this one with 25 points and 10 boards, including 15 points in the first half.
The Wolverines knew they had to stop her heading into this game, as she’s the 8th-leading scorer (21.7 ppg) and the third-most efficient player (68.1 FG%) in college basketball.
The Wolverines will get a chance to face Indiana again on the 16th, and they know as well as anyone how a dominant post player can control a game.
“I think we saw it tonight, she’s an elite (offensive) boarder,” Maddie Nolan said. “We didn’t block her out very well and she got a bunch of points that way...we got to figure out how to help and make her feel uncomfortable in a lot of ways. We’ve seen it the last few years with Naz on our team how teams had to guard her a little differently. I think going forward, we can do that and make more difficult for her to score.”
The Hoosiers capitalized from three, and the Wolverines couldn’t keep up
This Indiana team has a knack for creating easy shots for themselves, as they did a great job finding the open cutter or shooter. They were pretty hot from three, making 50% of their attempts from beyond the arc (9/18).
This Indiana team scored pretty consistent, especially off of Michigan makes, and the Wolverines simply couldn’t keep up. They were down double digits at the half, and dug themselves into a deeper hole in the second half that they couldn’t climb out of.
Laila Phelia getting to the basket with a purpose
Phelia is probably Michigan’s best driver, as she did a great job embracing contact and getting to the rim. She finished with 21 points, including 10 in the first half and a few huge buckets in the second-half that cut the Hoosier lead to single digits.
The Wolverines did a good job feeding her in transition, and she’s a really solid scorer when she’s got the ball going down-hill.
When both her and Brown are making shots, this team gets a pretty good rhythm going.
Jordan Hobbs making an impact off the bench
Hobbs got some extended minutes off the bench in that first half, earning more playing time by providing energy and a scoring punch. She had 7 points and 3 boards in that first half, and finished the game with those same totals.
She did a great job battling inside and picking her spots offensively, knocking down a three off a nice feed from Brown to cut the Hoosier lead to 4.
She averages about 9.6 minutes per game, but she played 13 minutes in the first half alone and played 23 minutes total. Foul trouble limited her minutes in the second half and she ultimately fouled out, but if she keeps bringing this much of an impact off the bench, those minutes are bound to go up.
“Jordan has been great the last 3 or 4 games,” Barnes Arico said. “Jordan is an unbelievable scorer, I think she’s instant offense. She has the ability to shoot the ball or get to the rim. She’s going to have a fabulous career for us.”
The Wolverines have two more games this week, both of which are on the road. They face No. 10 Maryland on Thursday (6:30 p.m. tip on Big Ten Network) before heading to Minnsota three days later to take on the Golden Gophers (3 p.m., B1G+).
The Big Ten conference schedule is an absolute gauntlet; there’s 6 Big Ten teams in the AP top 25, with 5 of those teams being in the top 13.
“Our league is stronger and better than it’s ever been,” Barnes Arico said. “Any game we play, night in and night out, is going to be a tough one.”