Michigan women's basketball team (5-6 Big Ten, 13-8 overall) travels to Evanston today to take on the Wildcats. Tip is set for 7pm cst and will be streamed live via Nusports.com and MGoBlue.com or can be heard on WNUR 89.3FM and WLBY 1290AM.
Recap (sort of):
For the first time in 6 years, M is enjoying a 3 game conference winning streak after defeating then #23 Penn State (7-4 Big Ten, 15-6 overall) in a nail biter at Crisler last Sunday. This is the second nationally ranked team M has defeated this season (Xavier). M started poorly and was eventually down by 15 when they surged for a 62-66 win. Ultimately, the team took care of the ball, played intelligently and limited turnovers to a season low 11. But 8 of those turnovers were in the first half and when combined with shooting only 9 for 27, things looked dire at the half. Then the team opened the second half with a 15 – 2 run energized by motion offense and screens. 5 M players scored at least 8 points. Dayeesha Hollins, Carmen Reynolds, Veronica Hicks and Krista Phillips are averaging over 9 points per game and scored 8pts, 18pts, 18pts and 10pts/10 rebounds respectively. From the bench, Nya Jordan scored 8.
Heros: Krista Phillips for her leadership and her 13-seconds-left, 3 pointer to put M ahead for good. And Carmen Reynolds for her timely 3s and the 2 3-seconds-left free throws to seal the game. Krista is now 54 points from a career 1000 and this was her 3rd double double for the season.
Goats: None...well, maybe all the starters for the first half play.
M is currently #35 RPI and with a rated #16 strength of schedule having key wins over Xavier (#13 RPI), Marquette (#29) and Illinois (#43). Key loss is New Mexico State (#121 RPI). Overall, they have a 4-5 record vs top 50 RPI and can play themselves into the NCAA tournament.
Preview (sort of) Northwestern:
M lost to NU 63-59 on December 28 at Crisler. Krista posted her first double double (14pts/11 rebounds) and Roni scored a career best 23pts in a late rally (from 12 down) which fell short. This game busted a 5 game win streak.
NU plays tall, attacking the paint with 3 forwards, a center and a guard. Guard Beth Marshall averages 6.6pts/game but scored 18 against M. Averaging 16.1 and 10.3 respectively, center Amy Jaeschke and forward Brittany Orban scored 14 and 8 in the first game.
Since then, the Wildcats (4-7 Big Ten, 13-9 overall) are tied for last in the Big Ten standings and are last in points allowed (734) vs M's 6th rank 659 (MSU leads at 589). Their last game was an upset 68-62 road win over Wisconsin. The team shot 65% from the field (mostly in the paint) and freshman forward Kendall Hackney scored 14pts (of 16) during the second half. But an energetic combination of full-court press and tenacious blizzard defense confused Wisconsin and is cited as the big key for the win. Still, NU has only won 2 of the last 8 games and only one of the games was close (vs MSU strangely enough – Allyssa DeHaan had 24pts/10 reb and 5 blk).
While M has only won two conference road games this year (64-48 triumph at Ill and a 54-51 decision at Iowa) this is not the same team NU beat more than a month ago. M has been learning how to win and team confidence should be high. This could be an interesting game as M normally plays short with 3 guards, a center and a forward. Match ups, match ups, match ups. Points in the paint vs 3s. Go Blue!