After rounding out their final three games of the regular season, the Michigan Wolverines set their sights on the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis. The Wolverines went 1-2 in their last three games, taking down Rutgers at home on senior night but falling to both Ohio State and Wisconsin. Michigan sits at fifth place in the conference standings and looks to make some noise in the conference tournament.
Last week started with a tough go at home against Ohio State. Despite a 36-point effort from guard Leigha Brown, the Wolverines fell, 74-61.
Ohio State got off to a hot start and continued to hit threes but Brown was keeping Michigan in it, scoring Michigan’s first 10 points in the second quarter and pulling the Wolverines within three. Brown scored 14 in the second, but they were down four at halftime.
OSU only out-scored the Wolverines 14-11 in the third quarter as both teams struggled to get shots to fall. It didn’t get any better for the Wolverines in the final 10 minutes as turnovers and lack of offensive production allowed the Buckeyes to pull away.
The Wolverines returned to Crisler to host Rutgers on Thursday and got back in the win column despite being without Brown. This time it was Emily Kiser’s time to shine, as she led the Wolverines with a career high 34 points en route to a senior day win.
Kiser scored 14 of Michigan’s 20 points in the first 10 minutes of play, but the Scarlet Knights were only down eight. Rutgers pulled within one through the first five minutes of the second quarter, as Michigan struggled offensively by only scoring seven points through 10 minutes.
Kiser brought the Wolverines back to life in the second half, opening with their first six points. Again she put in a 14-point effort in the third after going quiet in the second. Michigan was able to build a comfortable 12-point lead with 10 minutes left in the game.
Maddie Nolan came up big for Michigan in the closing minutes, putting up three three-pointers over a two-minute span. Michigan took the win, 71-53.
Michigan then traveled to Wisconsin yesterday to take on the Badgers in their season finale. Once again the Wolverines were without Brown and Phelia but despite being stretched, they hung around. Both teams started hot, trading baskets over a nearly two-minute span. After cooling a bit, Hobbs gave Michigan its first lead with six minutes left in the first. Then Wisconsin went on a 8-6 run to tie the game.
Neither team could build a substantial lead in the second quarter as scoring droughts weighed down production for both teams. Wisconsin scored with less than five seconds remaining to get the edge going into half. The Wolverines needed another big half if they wanted to take the win on the road, but unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards.
The second half returned a lot of the same for Michigan — scoring droughts coupled with turnovers really hindered any means of building a lead. And the Badgers did their part to keep themselves in a position to upset the ranked Wolverines, but they weren’t backing away easily and willed themselves within three by a Hobbs three with less than 1:30 left in the third.
The Badgers took the final 10 minutes quite handedly, scoring 26 points in that frame. The Wolverines kept it close, but couldn’t overcome shooting woes and turnovers. They fell 78-70.
The Wolverines finish their regular season with a 11-7 record in the Big Ten and a 21-8 record overall. The Big Ten Tournament starts this week, with Michigan’s first game on Thursday afternoon. Their fifth place finish earned them a first round bye and they will take on the winner of Penn State/Minnesota. Hopefully Michigan can be fully healthy heading into Thursday as they make a run for a title.