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This Week in Michigan Women’s Basketball (2/20)

Three games remain for the Michigan Wolverines.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

In their lone appearance last week, the Michigan Wolverines fell to Indiana, 68-52, in Bloomington. After Thursday night’s loss, the Wolverines sit alone in fifth place in the Big Ten after moving to 10-5 in conference games.

Michigan kept pace with Indiana through the first four minutes of the game, with both teams trading baskets in that time. Then the Hoosiers took over. They rattled off a 10-2 scoring run over a two-minute span. The Wolverines didn’t back down as they pulled within five after a three from guard Jordan Hobbs in the final minute of the first quarter.

Michigan needed some work and quickly made it a three-point game to open the second quarter. Then the scoring lulls returned as Michigan struggled to make a basket for over six minutes, committing six turnovers in that span, while allowing Indiana to put up 12 points. The Hoosiers didn’t take their foot off the gas and Michigan quickly was down 42-28 at the half after only mustering 11 points in 10 minutes.

The Wolverines were cold to start off the second half and back-to-back threes put them down 20 with eights minutes left in the third. Turnovers plagued Michigan’s efforts and Indiana continued to be unrelenting on both ends of the floor.

The Hoosiers out scored the Wolverines 19-9 in the third quarter. A huge push was desperately needed in the final 10 minutes of play and despite a monstrous defensive effort by Michigan, they would fall by 16 on the road. They held Indiana to seven points in the final 10 minutes, including a scoreless first six minutes of the fourth quarter.

Michigan can bounce back into the win column with three chances this week. They’ll revisit both Ohio State and Rutgers at home before the season finale at Wisconsin.

First up for the Wolverines this week is Ohio State tonight. Michigan last played the Buckeyes on New Year’s Eve. The Buckeyes edged out Michigan, 66-57, in that contest in Columbus. The Wolverines seek to avoid the series sweep, while improving their record against ranked teams. After losing to Indiana, the Wolverines are now 2-5 in games against ranked opponents.

The Buckeyes are led by guard Taylor Mikesell, who averages 17.4 points, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals a game. She’s aided by forward Taylor Thierry, who’s 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals leads the team. She also averages 13.5 points while shooting 64.6 percent from the floor.

Michigan will then host Rutgers on Thursday night. The Wolverines got the win in Piscataway a month ago, beating the Scarlet Knights, 81-58. Since that meeting, things haven’t gotten any better for Rutgers. They have gone 3-4 in their past seven games, including an 111-57 blowout loss to Iowa. Forward Kaylene Smikle leads the Scarlet Knights with 17.6 points and 2.1 steals a game. She’s aided by guard Awa Sidibe, who averages 9.7 points and team-high 3.3 assists per game.

Finally, the Wolverines will travel to Wisconsin for their regular season finale. This is the first contest between the two teams this season, but they shouldn’t be a tough test for Michigan. The Badgers are currently 1-4 in their last five games, their lone win coming against Minnesota. They sit at 12th in the Big Ten with a 3-12 record in conference games.

Guard Julie Pospisilova leads the team with 13.3 points and 4.1 assists a game. She’s aided by guard Matyson Wilke, who averages 11.1 points and 1.9 steals a game and forward Serah Williams, who’s 55.8 percent shooting from the floor leads the team.