Feb. 28, 2013
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Center)
Score: Michigan 55, Northwestern 50
Records: U-M (20-8, 9-6 Big Ten), NU (13-15, 5-10 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, March 3 -- at Ohio State (Columbus, Ohio), noon
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan women's basketball team claimed the fifth 20-win season in program history, defeating Northwestern, 55-50, behind a 52-point effort from the Wolverines' five senior starters on Senior Night Thursday (Feb. 28) inside Crisler Center. U-M led by 11 midway through the second half, before the Wildcats cut it to one late; but the Wolverines hung on in their final home game to close out the season with a 13-4 mark in Ann Arbor.
On the offensive end, Michigan senior forward Rachel Sheffer (Watervliet, Mich./Watervliet) scored a team-high 17 points to go with six rebounds. Senior forward Nya Jordan (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Community) recorded her third straight double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds). Senior guard Jenny Ryan (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central) scored 12 points and dished out eight assists. For the game, U-M shot 38.9 percent (21-for-54) from the field and outscored Northwestern, 34-14 in the paint.
After allowing Northwestern to score first, Michigan jumped out to a 6-2 advantage in the opening minutes. The Wolverines converted on three straight possessions to grab the early lead as points in the paint came from Jordan, Ryan, and Sheffer within a 47-second span.
Tied at 11-all, Ryan collected a steal and went coast to coast to reclaim the Michigan lead, 13-11, at the 8:19 mark of the first half, which kick-started an 8-0 U-M spurt. To close out the run, Sheffer made a mid-range jumper, putting the Wolverines up 19-11 with a little more than four minutes left in the half.
Northwestern responded with a 7-0 run of its own to deadlock the game at 21 apiece. In the final moments of first-half play, senior forward Sam Arnold (Medinah, Ill./Lake Park) -- making her first career start -- nailed a three-pointer to send Michigan into the locker room with a three-point edge, 24-21, in a first half that featured three ties and six lead changes.
To open the second half, both teams traded baskets as Michigan held on to its three-point advantage (28-25) heading into the first media timeout. Even play continued over the next five minutes, before Sheffer extended Michigan's lead to six with a layup off a Ryan assist, making the score, 38-32, in favor of U-M with 11:54 to go in the game.
The Maize and Blue lead grew to as many as 11 points at the 9:36 mark, but Northwestern cut the U-M lead to one point (48-47) with a little less than two minutes remaining behind a quick 8-1 run. However, the Wolverines responded when senior guard Kate Thompson (Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata) stole the ball, and on U-M's possession, Ryan dished the ball to sophomore guard Nicole Elmblad (St. Ignace, Mich./LaSalle) for a jump shot, which beat the shot-clock buzzer and gave Michigan a 50-47 lead.
On Northwestern's ensuing possession, Sheffer collected another Michigan steal and was fouled. She missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Jordan grabbed the offensive board and got the ball to Ryan, who was fouled. Ryan made both free throw attempts, putting Michigan up 52-47 with 14 seconds left in play. The Wildcats could not get any closer than three points for the rest of the game, and Ryan hit another pair from the line to help the Wolverines record the five-point victory.
Michigan closes out the regular season on Sunday (March 3), traveling to Ohio State to take on the Buckeyes at noon. The contest can be seen live on the Big Ten Network from Value City Arena in Columbus.
Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423