Women’s Big Ten Tournament wrap: Michigan 82, Indiana 57

WHAT HAPPENED: Michigan outworked Indiana on the offensive glass, dominated with second-chance opportunities and put away the Hoosiers, 82-57, in the Big Ten Tournament opener at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Wolverines finished with five players scoring in double figures, led by double-doubles from Cyesha Goree (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Nicole Elmblad (15 points, 11 rebounds). Alexis Gassion scored a team-high 12 points for Indiana. Michigan advances to the next round, where it will face Big Ten co-champion Michigan State Friday at 6:30 p.m. The postseason drought continues for the Hoosiers, who haven’t won a tournament game since 2008-09.

Michigan outscored Indiana 24-8 in second-chance points, 42-32 in the paint and 24-8 off turnovers. Michigan shot 50 percent (31-for-62) from the field, while Indiana shot 41 percent for the game (25-for-61). The Hoosiers struggled from the perimeter, where they fired at only 26 percent (5-for-19).

Indiana now returns home awaiting a postseason tournament bid. The team is not expected to learn of any potential WBI or WNIT bid until March 17 or 18.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Indiana had no answer for Cyesha Goree, who had 10 of her 18 points and nine of her 11 rebounds by halftime. Six of her boards came on the offensive glass, where Goree stole plenty of balls from the fingertips and outstretched hands of Hoosier defenders.

Goree’s presence in the post attracted plenty of attention, leading to a balanced and efficient Michigan offensive showing.

“We knew if we would go inside early and establish Cyesha early they would probably look to double that,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “And then that would open up Val (Driscoll) and that would open Shannon (Smith) up on penetration, and that would open Nicole (Elmblad) because they’d be doubling off of her, as well. And it did.”

KEY STAT: Michigan outscoring Indiana 24-8 in second-chance points. Early in the first half, with the game still within reach, the Hoosiers were making initial defensive stops, but couldn’t grab hold of valuable rebounds and change possession. Of the Wolverines’ 22 first-half rebounds, eight came on the offensive glass.

“Their offensive rebounding percentage in the first half was 50 percent, which is extremely high,” IU coach Curt Miller said. “They shot 50 percent from the floor, but they got half of their misses back. One of the things that Michigan does is if they don’t score in transition and you can get them to run a halfcourt play, they’re going to be very patient, they’re going run the shot clock deep and take a shot. When you don’t get that conclusion of your defensive stop with a defensive rebound and they get a second chance, those possessions end up lasting nearly a minute long and that’s really deflating to a young team who has a fragile psyche.”

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “The unfortunate double edge of having such a great nonconference and then upsetting Iowa to go 14-0, then didn’t have much adversity, and so they thought it was going to be pretty easy. I don’t think they thought they were gonna run through the Big Ten, but they thought maybe they were a little bit better than they were.

“And we kept on talking (about) what’s coming and who we’re playing and you’ve never seen Maggie Lucas and you’ve never seen Jordan Hooper and you’ve never played in front of 8,000 on the road. And until they experienced it, I’m not quite sure young teams totally buy into it. Our seniors hadn’t had enough success to (say), ‘Hey, we know what’s coming. Do you guys understand?'”
— Indiana coach Curt Miller on the challenges of transitioning a young team from a successful non-conference stretch into the Big Ten season.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: It’s hard to determine where (if) the Hoosiers are headed for a postseason tournament. A win tonight would have helped the resume for WNIT purposes. Of course, at the very least, Indiana seems to be a fit for the WBI.

Entering Thursday’s game, Indiana sat at No. 67 in the RPI. The Hoosiers have won 18 games with quality victories over major conference teams like Iowa, Xavier, Butler, Virginia Tech and Minnesota. So one would think that their chances are good for an extended season.

Larryn Brooks and Simone Deloach agreed after Thursday’s game that Indiana’s collective effort wasn’t what it needed to be against a tough and physical Michigan team that has won each of the five games against the the Hoosiers in the Curt Miller era. It also shows where Indiana stands in terms of talent among the rest of the Big Ten.

“We’ve got to continue to recruit,” Miller said. “We believe our freshman class will form a strong foundation to build upon, but we’ve got to continue to get better and better players. We don’t have a top-100 player in our program at this point. You can’t look at not one other roster in the Big Ten that doesn’t have a top-100 prospect coming out of high school on their roster.

“We’re proud of what we did. We’ve exceeded a lot of expectations, but we’ve got to improve our talent level. We’ve addressed shooting. We rewrote a lot of record books in improved shooting. We wanted to improve skill. We have four really talented shooters coming in. Now we have to get more athletic and bigger. That’s not going to happen next year. We’re going to be undersized and really skilled. But in the future we’ve got to get longer and we’ve got to get more athleticism in our program.”

One comment

  1. Our talent is simply not as good as Michigans. Their size really hurt us inside. Our inability to rebound the basketball as coach Miller stated was crucial in this game! Next year, as coach Miller stated, we will be a much smaller team than this years was but, will obviously be a bit more talented bringing in 4 more girls who can shoot the basketball. Clair Jakubicek, hopefully fully recovered from ACL surgery will be a great addition up front. She almost averaged a double- double at Northern Illinois before her transfer here. I still think these freshmen ” hit the wall” as many freshmen do during their first year. With a year under their belt, things may be better next year than most think. If things improve half as much next year as it did from last year to this year, things will most definately work out! Go Hoosiers!

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