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January 12, 1998 - Image 15

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-01-12

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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - January 12, 1998 - 7B

Rowdy crowd helps
thwart Blue comeback

By B.J. Luria
Daily Sports Writer
CHAMPAIGN -The scene inside Huff Hall was
a familiar one for the Michigan women's basketball
team. For the third straight time, the Wolverines
played a game in which the home team took a big
second half lead only to see the visiting team come
back to make the game close. Unlike the last two
instances in which the Wolverines held a double-
digit lead, this game saw Michigan mount the heroic
comeback late in the game. Unfortunately for the
Wolverines, their effort fell short, as Illinois held on,
66-63.
Last week against Penn State, Michigan jumped
out to a 13-point lead in the second half, only to see
the Nittany Lions come back to win in overtime at
Crisler Arena. In Friday's showdown with Purdue in
Ann Arbor, Michigan held an 18-point advantage in
the second half. That lead dwindled to just four late
in the second half. The Wolverines eventually won,
67-59.
"We had a cushion the whole game and as soon as
it became closer, I think all of us had flashbacks to
Penn State," Michigan captain Molly Murray said.
"We got tentative and tense and you could just see on
everyone's face, like 'Oh no, here we go again."'"
Sunday, it was Michigan making the comeback in
the hostile confines of Huff Hall. After taking a one-
point halftime lead, the Wolverines were outscored,
22-8, in the first eight minutes of the game.
"We're down 13 points, 12 minutes to go and we
clawed our way back, in front of a very loud and hos-
tile crowd," Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. "It
was a great place to play."
The Wolverines played in front of their largest
crowd of the season - 3,861 - though at times, it
sounded as if twice that many people were booing
unpopular calls by the referees.

Michigan point guard Anne Thorius realized just
how much the crowd helped the Fighting Illini.
"There's no doubt that it makes a difference to
play in front of a crowd that is so loud and you can't
hear what you're saying on the floor," Thorius said.
"It's just like a sixth player on the floor so basically.
you just have to beat that player, too."
The raucous crowd rose to its feet on every
Michigan possession, cheering the Fighting Illini as
it tried to hold off a strong Michigan charge at the
end of the game.
On several occasions, the fans voiced their dis-
pleasure with the referees' calls as Illinois coach
Theresa Grentz yelled from the sideline. After the
game, however, she chose to keep her feelings to her-
self.
"I can't say anything about the officiating because
I don't feel like getting fined," Grentz said. "I have
my own rules about officiating and No. I is, I don't
like to get on the officials."
Although Guevara also voiced her displeasure
with the officials on several occasions, she was gen-
erally happy with the game that they called. At half-
time, she spoke to the officials at center court as
Grentz watched disapprovingly from a few feet away.
"They called the hand checks real early, but I
thought they were pretty consistent too," Guevara
said. "I went to the refs at halftime and said Hey lis-
ten, you're calling it tight and you're consistent. Just
call it that way the whole game,' and I thought they
did."
Regardless of the officiating and the crowd noise,
Michigan played well throughout the game, follow-
ing up a quality win against No. 23 Purdue on Friday.
"I told my team we played two tough teams back-
to-back,"Guevara said. "We can play with these peo-
ple and that's what my team needs to look at. We can
play with these people"

Ibemire drives
tio:the basket in a
.::67-59 upset of
No, 3 Purdue on
$icday at Crisler
Arena. The
Wolverines
Couldn't com-
a sweep of
ranked Big Ten
teams, dropping
so66.63 nallbiter
in Huff Hall to
Illinois yesterday.
LOUIS BROWN/Daily

Michigan shooters, go
jFold, but Illinois has
chily streak of its own

By Andy Latack
and B.J. Luria
Daily Sports Writers
,HAMPAIGN -- After shooting at
least 45 percent from the field in each
its-past five games, Michigan shot
st 36 percent yesterday against
Illinois.
The Fighting Illini fared only
slighfly better, hit-
ting on 40 percent
of their shots.
Michigan's defense
was at least partly
responsible for the Wared ao,
illini's shooting
9es
"God, I watched
Illinois up the
wazbo and they
penetrate, penetrate, penetrate,"
Michigan coach Sue Guevara said.
"Tauja Catchings, 1-for-7. How is she
going to score? Off the dribble. So
we're going to play off of her and try
to make her hit the outside jumper or
at least look to take some charges."
SPREADING IT AROUND: When
*posing coaches think of the
Michigan scoring attack, Pollyanna
Johns is usually the first person that
comes to mind. The center is averag-
ing more than 20 points per game,
third best in the Big Ten.
Johns also leads the conference in,
rebounding. But, if Michigan's oppo-
nents only concentrate on Johns,
they're going to get burned by the
Wolverines' balanced scoring attack.
n addition to Johps (20.4 ppg),
Michigan has had at least four players
score in double figures in five
straight games. All of the Wolverines'
starters average at least nine points
per game and Tiffany Willard comes
off the bench to average eight.
WALKER RETURNS: Sophomore
forwatd Kenisha Walker had her most
productive game since returning on
Dec. : 30 from injury against
innesota. Walker pulled down
ven rebounds, including four offen-

sive boards, all in the first half
against the Fighting Illini.
Walker, who was named the most
improved player on the Wolverines
last season, played 22 minutes
against Illinois, giving Michigan
quality time off the bench.
She added a steal and a block in her
fifth game back.
SHEELER LOVES MICHIGAN:
Illinois center Alicia Sheeler aver-
ages 14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per
game. But, against Michigan the last
two years, Sheeler has boosted both
her scoring and her rebounding.
In last year's contest in Ann Arbor,
a Michigan victory, Sheeler poured in
22 points and pulled down 14 boards.
On Sunday, Sheeler again scored 22
points and grabbed 13 rebounds,
A LONG TIME COMING: A lot has
happened since Michigan last beat
the Boilermakers.
The New York Mets won a World
Series. The U.S. won the Cold War.
The Berlin Wall fell. Desmond
Howard and Charles Woodson both
won the Heisman.
On Jan. 12, 1986, the Wolverines
squeaked out a 71-68 victory. Since
then, Purdue has taken 21 straight
against Michigan.
But all that ended Friday.
"It's a good feeling,' Guevara said.
"I'm very happy for this team. But
you know what? We get to enjoy it for
less than 24 hours.
ACTING LESSONS: Guevara is upset
with the Big Ten's officiating. So
she's teaching her team to act.
"God knows, I don't know the dif-
ference between a charge and a
block," Guevara said. "I'm saying to
my kids, 'If they're going to go up
and you're between there, you need to
fall. You fall and grunt, yell, whatev-
er so we can get an offensive
charge.'
Guevara took her cause up with the
supervisor of Big Ten officials.
- Daily Sports Writer Josh
Kleinbaum contributed to this report.

ILLINI
Continued from Page 11B
This matchup appeared to work in
Michigan's favor in the first half.
Michigan outrebounded the Illini, 25-
13, in the first half, and entered the
locker room with a 33-32 lead after a
pair of Anne Thorius free throws with
just more than a second remaining.
Thorius, who was a perfect 8-for-8
from the line in the first half, also
dished out five assists before the break.
Illinois (6-0, 12-4) came out strong
in the second half, going on a 24-10
run, and enjoyed its biggest advantage
of the game, 56-43, with 10:40 to play.
But, the Wolverines fought back,
repeatedly entering the ball to Johns,
who was able to maneuver around
Illinois' slower post players for a series
of athletic layups. Johns finished with
25 points and 10 rebounds.
After Lemire hit two free throws
with 3:03 remaining in the game, the
two teams were deadlocked at 59.
Michigan shot an impressive 91 per-
cent from the free-throw line in the
contest, going 10-for-10 in the second
half.
The Wolverines' defense contained
Berggren, last year's Big Ten Player of
the Year, holding her to nine points, just
half of her season average. It was the
first time all season Berggren had been
held to single-digit scoring.
Unfortunately for Michigan, the
Illini post players picked up the scoring
slack, accounting for 44 of the Illini's
66 points. Center Alicia Sheeler led the
way with 22 points and 13 rebounds,
and Illinois' penetration paved the way

for easy entry into the post.
"Johns, first of all, is a pretty good
defender; she moves really well,"
Guevara said. "We were always going
to try to have somebody in the passing
lane, and then somebody that was
going to be in between the person with
the ball and the basket, to defend pene-
trati on."
On Friday, the Wolverines used their
switching defense, coupled with a bal-
anced scoring attack, to defeat No. 23
Purdue, 67-59. Molly Murray hit three
of five shots from 3-point range on her
way to scoring 16 points, and the
Wolverines harassed the Boilermakers
(2-2, 9-5) into 36 percent shooting
from the floor.
After holding Purdue to just 20
points in the first half and enjoying a
53-36 lead with 5:22 to play, the
Boilermakers fought back to close the
deficit to just four points, 57-53, with
1:50 left to play.
Michigan's inability to finish off
Purdue evoked memories of last
week's overtime loss to Penn State,
which saw the Wolverines blow a 13-
point lead in the second half.
"Down the stretch, you could see the
fear come back for about two or three
minutes," Guevara said. "But we made
some changes in personnel and hit
some big free throws down the stretch,
and I'm very happy for this team."
The victory over Purdue had been a
long time coming. The Boilermakers
had defeated the Wolverines 21 straight
times, with Michigan's last victory in
West Lafayette in 1986.
Johns added 17 points and 10
rebounds for Michigan.

LOUIS BROWN/Daily
Anne Thorius pulls up for a jumper behind a Molly Murray screen against Purdue.
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