In the second round of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, Michigan held on to avoid Penn State and upset bid. As usual, Liga Brown — who came back from a two-game gap — led the way for the Wolverines with 12 points and nine assists in the 63-61 victory.
Brown wasn’t the only Wolverine to make a triumphant comeback. Leila Filha, the first goalkeeper and second scorer, returned to the match for the first time since January 29th.
The first quarter did not feature dominance from the Wolverines, as many expected. The Nittany Lions finished the 18-game Big Ten season with a 4-14 record, but they didn’t look past the game on Thursday afternoon.
A strong all-around effort from Penn State kept Michigan contract after one quarter of play.
The higher ranked Wolverines failed to pull away in the second quarter as well. In fact, with only a few seconds left to play, Michigan was trailing by one. On the last possession of the first half, Lega Brown sprinted down the lane and threw a beautiful unseen pass to Elise Stock, who dropped a jumper to give UM a one-point advantage going into the second half.
Penn State’s grit was evident in the second half, too, as the Nittany Lions showed no signs of fatigue after defeating Minnesota on Wednesday. Despite both Brown and Philea being returned, Michigan’s offense wasn’t clicking.
Similar to the end of the second quarter, Michigan fired another last-second shot at the end of the third quarter to take the lead. Filea drilled a midrange jumper to give the Wolverines a 52-50 lead going into the final ten minutes.
The fourth quarter is when Michigan finally started to pull away. The most consistent team throughout the regular season, the Wolverines showed up in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
However, after Michigan opened up to a nine-point lead, Penn State made a push. The Nittany Lions battled the entire way trailing by just two points with 11 seconds left in the game. Fortunately for UM, Penn State couldn’t put good finishing possession on offense, and the Wolverines narrowly escaped.
Filea scored a team-high 13 points on a 5-11 shooting in her return. The sophomore is one of the key players at Michigan, and her return will greatly help Michigan in the later stages of the season.
Kim Barnes Arico and the Wolverines advance to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, where they will face fourth seed Ohio State.
The Buckeyes defeated Michigan in the first two games of the regular season. Ohio State has a full court press, which UM struggles with, as demonstrated in Thursday afternoon’s win.
The newest edition of the competition will begin around 3pm on Friday. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
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