Draw fouls and forced turnovers propel Michigan to victory again
The No. 17 Michigan women’s basketball team is no stranger to intense games. But in Thursday’s 76-64 win over Miami, one of the most physical games yet, things got even chippier than normal.
En route to the Wolverines’ eighth win of the season, the team committed 26 fouls and 28 turnovers — including four charges drawn by freshman forward Emily Kiser.
“When you have Emily Kiser who can draw four charges in a game, that’s pretty impressive and it helps a lot,” fifth-year wing Leigha Brown told The Daily on Thursday.
Not only did the Michigan defense force the Hurricanes to throw the ball away when they had possession, but the Wolverines also forced Miami to hack on the defensive end as well.
But the Hurricanes’ aggressive approach backfired, and Miami was forced to weather the storm that was Michigan’s near-perfect free-throw shooting, going 24-for-26 from the charity stripe — a season-high in both makes and attempts.
In the first quarter alone, Brown reached the line four times and sank all eight of her attempts. Most of those drives came after Michigan got into the bonus halfway through the period.
“(Brown) was unbelievable in the first quarter,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico told WTKA after the game. “She drew six fouls (in the quarter) on her own.”
As Brown continued to wreak havoc on the Hurricanes from the free throw line, making all 12 of her attempts, the rest of the Wolverines joined the party. Kiser went 7-for-8 from the line as she fouled out, not only while on defense but also on offense.
“We shot really, really well from the free throw line tonight,” Brown said. “And that’s something that, in close, gritty games like this, definitely makes an impact.”
While not a new style of play for Michigan, the ferocity of this game looked a little different than previous games this season. Both teams were charged with an intentional foul in the second half, the Wolverines coming in the third quarter and Miami’s in the fourth. But Michigan’s experience in intense, physical games helped the team keep its cool and remain unaffected.
“That’s something we got to experience in our last Florida tournament,” Brown said. – So we were in a way prepared for that. We knew they were going to be miserable and really come at us.”
And come the Wolverines they did. Four Hurricane players finished the night with four errors and a fifth. The team was forced to play cautiously as so many of the players struggled to stay in the game. Putting Michigan in the bonus in three of four quarters of play, Miami gave Michigan 24 free points.
In the fourth quarter, after the Wolverines began to pull away, the Hurricanes fouling issues allowed Michigan’s offensive storm to do major damage putting the final nails in the coffin, damage that Miami simply couldn’t match.
The Wolverines got into the bonus less than three minutes into the final frame and never looked back. The team shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the line in the fourth, making the Hurricanes pay every time the whistle sounded.
When Miami had possession, Michigan made sure it didn’t last long. The Wolverines forced 28 turnovers, their second most of the season. They hurt those turnovers for the Hurricanes, scoring 28 points off those takeaways.
“Obviously, our defense is so up in the grill and the physicality that we’re able to force a lot of (turnovers),” Brown said. “Just makes the teams uncomfortable.”
By forcing Miami to foul 26 times and committing 28 turnovers, Michigan ended the week the same way it started. After ending a whirlwind five game streak, the Wolverines showed the Hurricanes what a storm really looks like.