By JACK VANASSCHE, Sports Editor
The University of Michigan-Dearborn women’s basketball team showed a possible glimpse into the future last week, riding hot stretches to a split of the week’s conference games.
Again, the Wolverines found themselves hanging with another talented team late in the game. This time it was Lawrence Tech University, a top-five team in the conference, that the Wolverines were clinging to late in the game on Wednesday.
Despite freshman Jeorgia Jones scoring a career high, the Blue Devils were able to pull away in the final seven minutes and beat the Wolverines, 62-50.
“We played really well,” said UM-Dearborn head coach Jordan Sweeney of his team. “Especially in stretches, though. That’s kind of been our M.O. in a bad way this year.”
Indeed, the Wolverines were good in long stretches against the Blue Devils (14-10, 10-7 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference), and their lapses early in the game were short spurts.
Lawrence Tech led UM-Dearborn after the first quarter by just four points, 15-11.
The Wolverines were struggling to keep up in the second quarter, as the Blue Devils put up six quick points to put some space between the two teams on the scoreboard.
Jones, however, took charge offensively for UM-Dearborn. From the last two minutes of the first half to the second minute of the third quarter, Jones scored 10 straight points for the Wolverines.
“We got her the ball early and she started making shots,” Sweeney said. “Then everyone kind of caught on, like, ‘Hey if we get her the ball, good things happen,’”
Jones scored 12 of her eventual career-high 20 points in the first half. She shot 10-16 and snagged four rebounds.
Down 33-26 with over six minutes left in the third quarter, the Wolverines got on one of their best runs of the night, sinking five straight baskets for a 12-0 run to take a 38-35 lead.
Lawrence Tech got back on their feet in the fourth quarter and outscored the Wolverines 18-10 to take the lead and the game.
“We play well, but can’t put it together for really long stretches, where the good teams, that’s what they do,” said Sweeney.
“I think that’s very indicative of a young team. It’s just spurt–spurt–spurt.”
Kendall Rose finished second for the Wolverines in scoring with eight points and led the team with three steals.
Blue Devil guard Nicole Buckingham scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-22 shooting on the day.
Saturday, the Wolverines won a dogfight with visiting Marygrove, 86-72.
The win for the Wolverines (6-20, 3-15 WHAC) was also their highest point total of the season, as they had not previously scored more than 73 in a game in 2016-17.
“We were just hot,” said Sweeney. “We had some open shots. When you make those, you’ll look pretty good.”
Early on, the Wolverines showed hustle under the basket by winning the rebound battle down low.
This led to more shots for the Wolverines, and they made the most of their opportunities by scoring 23 points in the first quarter.
Marygrove (3-24, 1-16 WHAC), looking for their second conference win of the season over the Wolverines, stayed in the game with three-point shooting that jogged memories of the Golden State Warriors.
“It’s tough,” said Sweeney on how to defend such accurate three-point shots. “They put up shots that on most teams don’t look like good shots, but they just kept going in.
“We even had one of our girls tip a shot and it still went in.”
Of the Mustangs’ first 15 baskets, 11 of them were three-pointers. Marygrove guard Elisha Major was on fire from deep, as she finished with a game-high 30 points and six three-pointers.
Not until the third quarter did the Mustangs cool from down deep, and the Wolverines were ready under the basket.
UM-Dearborn grabbed 40 rebounds as opposed to Marygrove’s 25, leading to 17 second-chance for the Wolverines and just 5 for the Mustangs.
Marygrove finished 13-of-26 (50 percent) from three-point range, while the Wolverines finished 10-of-20 (50 percent).
Four Wolverines finished in double-digit scoring, led by Rose with 17 points and seven rebounds, followed by Megan Swick with 15 points on five three-pointers.
For Sweeney, seeing his team show fire this week was enough for him, even with a split record.
“One and one (wins and losses) against Lawrence Tech- a good team? Yeah, I’ll take that right now.”
This week, the Wolverines wrap up their road games for the year with a trip to Cornerstone on Wednesday and then to Madonna on Saturday.