In Wisconsin’s second match against a conference opponent in the last three games, Kim Barnes Arico and the Michigan Wolverines (9-1, 1-0 Big Ten) defeated Marisa Moseley’s Badgers (2-8, 0-2 Big Ten) 93-81 on Dec. 9.
The red and white struggled defensively early on, allowing the Wolverines to shoot 66.7% from the field and 40% from three. Interestingly, Sydney Hilliard and Julie Pospíšilová split ball-handling duties with point guard Katie Nelson — something Wisconsin doesn’t typically do to begin games. The Wolverines pulled down eight rebounds and extended their lead to nine by the opening period’s close.
Michigan continued to dominate in the second quarter, hitting four of six shots and bringing down four more rebounds in the first three minutes. The Wolverines advantage ballooned to 16 by the 6:54 mark.
Though the Badgers outshot their opponent 55.6% to 38.9%, they trailed by 12 by allowing six offensive rebounds. By halftime, Emily Kiser led the Wolverines with 11 with teammates Naz Hillmon and Leigha Brown, adding nine points and six rebounds a piece.
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UW picked it up following intermission, cutting the lead to eight within the first two minutes of the second half off of two Stapleton layups. But Michigan responded with four steals, 18 points in the paint and a 28-point scoring output from the hardwood in the third quarter. Heading into the final period of regulation, the Badgers trailed by 19.
During the final 10 minutes of the game, UW played one of its finest offensive quarters this season, going 12-23 from the field and accumulating 15 rebounds and 29 points. With 22 ticks remaining, the Badgers cut the lead to eight off of an 8-0 scoring run, but it was too late. The Wolverines scored four straight and reclaimed their double-digit advantage, ending the match with a 93-81 lead.
Michigan’s combination of Kiser and Hillmon proved too much for the Badgers to overcome. The two combined for nine of the teams twelve offensive boards — far too many for Moseley’s liking. The Wolverines earned 50 points in the paint, 17 second chance points and 17 points off of turnovers.
Barnes Arico’s group chalked up only seven giveaways and despite being out-rebounded 33-31 on the glass, senior leadership elevated Ann Arbor’s team through impressive low post play and consistent defensive effort. On 52.2% from the floor and 41.2% from downtown, Michigan led for 99.1% of regulation time.
Badgers guard Julie Pospíšilová notched a season-high 21 points, grabbed three boards and dished out four assists on 50% shooting from the floor. In her 35 minutes of action, junior Sydney Hilliard returned to the scoresheet, adding 16 points, seven rebounds and a season-best seven dimes with 60% efficiency. Freshman Krystyna Ellew flashed her potential yet again, racking up 18 points, pulling down six rebounds and registering a perfect 8-8 mark from the charity stripe over 27 minutes.
Ann Arbor’s Hillmon, the consensus 2021 Big Ten Player of the Year, punched in eight field goals for 21 points, handed out five assists and pulled down five offensive rebounds in 35 minutes on the hardwood. Senior Leigha Brown garnered two blocks and four steals to go along with her 13 points on 54.5% from the floor. Emily Kiser managed 17 and 8 off of 50% from the field, while Danielle Rauch secured 18 points off three looks from behind-the-arc.
Looking ahead, the Badgers face off next against Green Bay on Dec. 12 in Madison.