It always stinks to lost to your rival, especially the one from Columbus. No. 16 Ohio State played some really good basketball at the Crisler Center, beating No. 12 Michigan, 74-61.
This was Michigan’s last chance to pick up a win against a ranked conference opponent this season, but they were too sloppy with the basketball to make it happen.
These teams are neck-and-neck in the Big Ten standings, and are only separated by 4 spots in the AP Poll. Ohio State won the first match-up in Columbus, 66-57.
Here are the takeaways from the loss.
WAY too many turnovers
Michigan was way too sloppy with the ball to start out this one. They had 7 turnovers in that first quarter and badly miss Laila Phelia, who’s been out with an injury to her left leg since the win against Minnesota on Jan. 29.
In the second half, Ohio State put on some pressure with a 3⁄4 court press and got a few turnovers from that as well. Not having Phelia to help with that pressure clearly hurt the Wolverines.
“Losing Leila (Phelia), we lost a lot of pressure release,” said head coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I think teams are really keying on Leigha (Brown) exclusively, and that’s pretty tough.”
The Wolverines did a bad job taking care of the ball all game long. They had 27 turnovers in this one, including 12 in the first half and 9 in the 3rd quarter.
The frustrating part was a lot of the turnovers were unforced, including a few travels. In the second half. Losing the turnover battle (Ohio State only had 18) is an easy way to lose against ranked opponents.
A spectacular game for Leigha Brown
Leigha Brown is Michigan’s leading scorer, averaging 17.5 points per game. She had more than that in the first half alone, scoring 21 points and grabbing 5 boards. She finished the game with 36 points, a new career-high since scoring 31 in the home loss to Indiana.
I love the way she plays; she crashes the boards after her own misses, she excels in transition, and when she’s making her threes, Michigan’s offense is pretty hard to stop.
“She’s one of the best players in the country,” Barnes Arico said of Brown. “She just tries to do whatever we need her to do to help us win. Some nights that’s scoring, some nights that’s passing, some nights that’s rebounding, and she was outstanding again tonight.”
Ohio State shot the lights out
The Wolverines got off to the exact start they wanted against the Buckeyes, starting the game on a 10-2 run and forcing Ohio State to call a timeout 3:19 into the game.
After that timeout, the Buckeyes shot the lights out, making their next 6 threes to take a 24-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. In that first half, they made 8 of their 11 attempts from 3, knocking down pretty much all of their open opportunities.
They stayed hot from three all game long, making 10 of their 19 attempts, good for 52.6%. It’s hard to beat a team who shoots that well from deep.
Hobbs was hot from three
Jordan Hobbs made some timely threes for the Wolverines in this one. She ended up making 3 of her 6 attempts and really gave Michigan’s offense a boost when they’ve needed it.
Hobbs has mostly been a role player for the Wolverines this season, but she nearly doubled her points-per-game average (4.7) a few minutes into the second half of this one.
Barnes Arico said that performances like this are important for the freshman.
“I think her confidence is growing and growing as the season progresses,” Barnes Arico said. “I think for Jordan, she’s gotten into a role now where when Leila’s out, she’s starting, she’s more confident, she’s not afraid to make a mistake because she knows that she’s going to continue to play.”
She stepped up for Michigan in a big way, especially with the Wolverines not named Brown struggling to generate offense.
Two physical losses in a row
The Wolverines have now lost two games in a row, falling to No. 2 Indiana on the road last week. Both those games were tough, physical match-ups, which Brown said will help this team in the long run.
“I think our conferenec is arguably the most physical, toughest conference in the country,” Brown said. “That’s why you see, year in and year out, a lot of Big Ten go into the tournament and be successful, because we’ve had some great competition we’ve been facing all season.”
Michigan hoping to host NCAA tournament games again
We’re a few weeks away from March Madness, and the Wolverines are currently projected to be a 3-seed by ESPN. As long as the Wolverines are a 4-seed or better, they’ll be hosting NCAA tournament games for the second straight year.
Barnes Arico said that hosting games again is a goal of this team, and finishing the season with a few Big Ten tournament wins would help that.
“I think it’s an amazing opportunity to host,” Barnes Arico said. “I think it was life-changing last year and it was so incredible. Our fans were so incredible, and I think it was so great for our community and our players...we would love to host the NCAA tournament for sure, it’s life-changing.”
Michigan has two more games this week to close out the regular season, as they have their senior night on Feb. 23 against Rutgers before traveling to face Wisconsin to close out the season.