Wolverines thrash punchless Cavs
Shooting, rebounding deficiencies continue in 73-53 loss
Reeling from a three-game losing streak and season-long shooting woes, the Virginia women’s basketball team took the floor against Michigan on Thursday night at John Paul Jones Arena looking to change its tune.
By the time the final horn had sounded on a 73-53 loss, however, the repetitive clangs of a ball striking iron remained the definitive sound of the Cavaliers’ 2013-14 campaign.
Though Virginia (3-5) put up 57 shots against the Wolverines (6-3), only 19 fell through the net. Senior guard Ataira Franklin, the heartbeat of the team, misfired on all but two of her 12 attempts. Up and down the lineup, the Cavaliers sported unsightly shooting lines. That Michigan seemed to outwork the Cavaliers only compounded head coach Joanne Boyle’s disappointment.
“I feel like we’re getting outhustled,” Boyle said. “I do. I don’t think we’re sitting down and guarding people and being disciplined. I mean, it’s deflating when people just constantly get second-chance points on you.”
The Cavaliers fell behind fast, digging themselves a 16-6 hole by the 12:55 mark of the first half. Virginia did pull within three points on freshman guard Tiffany Suarez’s three-point play with 7:47 left in the first half, but foul trouble had already confined senior guards Kelsey Wolfe and Lexie Gerson to the bench with two fouls each. Boyle leaned heavily on Suarez and freshman guard Breyana Mason for the last ten minutes of the first half, and with Boyle forced to lean heavily on Suarez and fellow freshman guard Breyana Mason, Michigan managed to reel off a half-ending 18-6 run to build a 36-20 advantage at the break..
Virginia forced up deep 3-pointers and often shot the ball early in the shot-clock in an effort to trim the deficit, but the Wolverine lead only grew, ballooning to 27 points with 10:49 to play. Michigan came into the game scorching from 3-point distance, but against Virginia, the squad worked the paint for close looks and in-rhythm midrange jump shots to eviscerate the Cavalier defense. The Wolverines also finished the game shooting 53.8 percent.
“When you get in those situations, everybody wants to be the hero and kind of get you out of that and kind of start the run,” Franklin said. “But, just, what it came down to in this game was [that] we weren’t getting stops. We were playing defense for 27 seconds, and then they would get the rebound, and that’s deflating.”
Despite recording a team-high 13 points, junior forward Sarah Imovbioh collected only two boards in 27 minutes of play. Outside of freshman forward Sydney Umeri, who pulled down eight rebounds (four offensive), Virginia came up mostly empty on the glass. Michigan outrebounded the Cavaliers 41-27.
The two-headed front court monster of junior forward Cyesha Goree and senior center Val Driscoll combined for 32 points and 12 rebounds on 14 of 18 shooting to spark Michigan. Junior guard Nicole Elmblad chipped in with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, many of those connections arriving via midrange jumpers.
The Cavaliers do not play again until December 17, when they take on Maryland Eastern Shore at home, and the team hopes to regain its injured self-esteem in the coming week of practice. The hiatus affords Boyle time to discern how to facilitate the improvements she knows her squad can make.
“We’re not being disciplined on either end of the floor,” Boyle said. “I mean, our confidence is a little shook on offense, but we can guard better, you know. We can guard better, and we can rebound better, and we can get ourselves easy baskets so that we don’t have to rely on half-court offense all the time.”