Michigan senior forward Naz Hillmon exited the game to a standing ovation, cheers from her teammates and a chest bump from her head coach. Her interior production and rebounding led No. 6 Michigan to a top-10 victory over No. 5 Indiana women’s basketball 65-50 Monday in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Hoosiers have won games this season thanks to their slow pace of play, ability to work the ball inside and strong interior play, but in Monday night’s loss, they were outrebounded by the Wolverines 52-20. Michigan senior forward Emily Kiser tallied a game-high 16 rebounds and had a hand on seemingly every loose ball.
“I did think we looked like a team that had been off for a couple weeks,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “We looked really rusty and had no real rhythm.”
In addition to the overall rebounding in the game, Michigan held an edge in offensive rebounding, pulling down 14 to Indiana’s five. Over the course of the game, Michigan missed 29 total shots. 15 of those misses were grabbed by Indiana, but the remaining 14 fell into the hands of Michigan players.
Michigan capitalized on those opportunities, scoring 14 second-chance points. In comparison, Indiana failed to score a single second-chance point off the minimal offensive rebounds it got.
“We gave up second and third shot opportunities, which was a little bit frustrating,” Moren said.
Hillmon’s 21 points and five rebounds helped lead the Wolverines to the win. Earlier Monday, Hillmon was named to the late-season top 20 watch list for the Wooden Award, the honor given to college basketball’s best player every season.
“First of all, Naz is terrific, she's not an easy post player to guard,” Moren said. “She’s a very difficult matchup.”
The Hoosiers also had a player named to the Wooden Award watch list Monday: junior forward Mackenzie Holmes. Holmes is the team’s most effective paint player and arguably the Hoosiers’ best player overall, but she has not played since Indiana’s Jan. 5 win against Wisconsin due to a knee injury.
Indiana has survived thus far in games without Holmes, beating Nebraska and Purdue in its two contests leading up to Monday’s matchup against Michigan. In Holmes’ absence, Indiana lacks the size to compete with teams down low, a factor Michigan was able to exploit with a 46-28 advantage in points in the paint against Indiana.
Indiana’s next game is against Minnesota at 7 p.m. Thursday. The game will be Indiana’s first at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall since Jan. 13.