Lady Lions Win Battle of Undefeated Teams
In what turned out to be a career milestone night for Michigan senior Rachel Scheffer, who surpassed the 1,000 point mark for her career, it was the No. 8 ranked Lady Lions who stole the show in Ann Arbor.
Heading into the matchup the two teams were the only teams in the Big Ten without a loss in conference play. The Lady Lions (15-2, 5-0 Big Ten) are now the only team in the conference to remain unbeaten.
The victory did not come easy though. The No. 23 ranked Wolverines gave the Lions their toughest in conference battle, led by Scheffer who finished with 20 points and ten boards. It took a 12-2 run to end the game to secure the victory for the Lady Lions. The win increased the Lady Lion’s win streak to nine games; meanwhile it snapped an impressive ten game win streak for the Wolverines.
On a night where both teams struggled from the field, the Lions shooting just under 39 percent for the game and the Wolverines shooting south of 28 percent, it was evident that the game plan was to minimize the perimeter game of both teams.
"We just didn't want to give them open shots. When they get open shots, they are a fantastic team," Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington told GoPSUSports.com. "We wanted to get them off the 3-point line and wanted to contest shots."
Entering the game the Wolverines were shooting nearly 40 percent from the three point line but the focus from the Lady Lions defense evidently took its toll on the Michigan offense.
"It was an emphasis, because they're a great shooting team," Lucas told GoPSUSports.com . "We were trying to spy -- especially Kate Thompson, because she's a great shooter."
Despite the late game struggles from the field for Michigan, it was the Wolverines who jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead in the first few minutes of play. The Lady Lions responded in a big way though, unleashing a 15-0 run started by senior Mia Nickson’s old-fashioned three-point play. Junior Maggie Lucas chipped in five of her team high 19 during the run, along with a three-point play from junior Dara Taylor, and two points each from seniors Nikkie Greene and Alex Bentley.
A half obviously, marred by runs, the Wolverines would shortly after go on a 13-5 run of their own to bring the game within a point (24-23). It was the Lady Lions who would have the last run of the half. A late 8-1 run at the end of the half would take the Lady Lions into the locker room up 32-24.
With a sloppy beginning to the half the Lady Lions found themselves trailing 35-34 with about 14 minutes left, but the lead for the Wolverines would be brief. Despite losing the lead, the Wolverines hung tough and kept lingering right up until the end, but could never reclaim a lead.
It was defense of Penn State that won them the game in the end though. With a slim 47-46 lead, the Lions would hold Michigan scoreless for the next 6 minutes, and the Lions would hang on and eventually pull away with this highly competitive Big Ten matchup.
Jason Kohler is sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com.