February 11, 2005
. . . ... ........ ...
'M' falls hard to
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
COLUMBUS - Coming into last night's game, Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State were
as different as any two teams in the NCAA. The Buckeyes (10-1 Big Ten, 23-2 overall)
had won of 19 of their last 20 games. On the flipside, Michigan entered Value City Arena
having dropped 13 of its previous 14. On paper, it shouldn't have been a contest.
And after about ten minutes, it wasn't. The Wolverines shot just 32 percent from the
field and suffered a crushing 72-39 defeat.
"They're a great basketball team, Ohio State," Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett said.
"They're a little bit of everything - great depth, great size, great experience."
Early on, it looked as if Michigan (1-11, 5-18) could compete with Ohio State.
Freshman Ta'Shia Walker's spin move and layup cut the Buckeyes' lead to 14-10
midway through the first half. But that was when the Buckeyes exploded past the
overmatched Wolverines. Ohio State scored 10 unanswered points in the next
two minutes and put the game out of reach. During a 20-5 run to end the first
half, the Buckeyes forced six turnovers, including three steals by guard Ashley
"Our turnovers created so many easy offensive opportunities for them in the first
half," Burnett said. "They're lethal in the open floor."
The Buckeyes took a 34-15 lead into the second half and only improved from there,
as they put on a bona-fide basketball clinic. On the defensive end, Ohio State stifled the
Wolverines, forcing them into desperation shots with the shot clock winding down.
"If it looked like we were trying to do a ball control (offense)," Burnett said. "That
was not by design"
Ohio State sophomore center Jessica Davenport paved the way for the Buckeye interior
on the defensive end, finishing the game with five blocks. Her most spectacular play came
early in the second half. After Michigan freshman Becky Flippin made a beautiful back-
door pass to a cutting Kelly Helvey, Davenport came out of nowhere, swatting away the
sophomore's layup opportunity. The devastating block set up an easy fast-break scoring
chance for sophomore Brandie Hoskins and gave Ohio State a 44-16 lead.
"It was a nice play," Davenport said. "But the good thing was that it stayed inbounds,
and we got a layup out of it. It was pretty exciting for the crowd, but the bigger thing is
that we got points out of it."
Davenport also powered Ohio State on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 16
points on 7-for-li shooting. But the 6-foot-4 center wasn't the only Buckeye scoring in
the post - Ohio State outscored Michigan 42-12 in the paint.
The Buckeyes' outstanding bench play ensured that a Wolverine comeback would
Losing is one thing,
giving up is worse
Freshman forward Ta'Shia Walker could not contain Buckeye center Jessica Davenport.
not materialize. Detroit Country Day product Kim Wilburn provided an initial spark
off the bench, scoring eight of her 10 points in a six-minute span in the first half. Senior
Beth Howe picked up where Wilburn left off, scoring seven second-half points in just
"We've got some great players maybe not playing the minutes they would
like," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "But they give great effort every day
in practice, and when they get in the game, it's still there. And that makes us
hard to play, I think."
Despite the lopsided outcome, the Wolverines did manage to execute parts of their
game plan. In the initial meeting between the two teams on Jan.. 11 at Crisler Arena,
Ohio State senior Caity Matter blew up for 28 points. But last night, the Wolverines
held her to just five points on 1-for-6 shooting.
"We wanted to make sure to eliminate easy scoring looks for Caity Matter," Burnett
said. "She torched us the first time in our place."
Wright on Target
COLUMBUS - At the end of
Michigan's 72-39 loss to Ohio
State last night, it wasn't the
margin of victory or the Wolverines'
offensive struggles that upset me.
It was their lack of heart.
I expected the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes
to control the game from the start. By
any reasonable measure, Ohio State is
a much better team than Michigan. But
that statement hides the fact that games
are often decided by emotion - a
momentum-changing play or a team
rallying around an injured teammate
can change a game's entire outcome.
Even an underdog looking to prove
itself against the pick of the litter has a
On any given night, a bad team can
beat a good team, even on the road. But
as the lopsided score indicates, nothing
like that happened last night.
While it might have been improbable
for Michigan to beat Ohio State, it was
absolutely possible for the Wolverines to
be competitive. After all, they were tied
with the Buckeyes after 14 minutes in the
teams' first meeting in January. But a lot
has changed for Michigan since then. It
has suffered, and will continue to suffer,
through a tough Big Ten schedule where
it has to play six of the top seven teams
twice and the three worst teams (exclud-
ing Michigan) just once each.
Being so consistently overmatched
has clearly taken its toll on the Wolver-
ines. Fourteen minutes into the first half
last night, they were down by 14 points.
That margin was significant; there's no
denying that it's hard for a struggling
team like Michigan to fight back against
a team that's battling to be the best in
But it's how dejected Michigan was
that hurt it the most.
Running to the locker room at half-
time, every single Wolverine had her
head down and a deflated look on her
face. I can't blame them for being dis-
heartened. I would be too if my team
was losing by 19 points at the half. But
I'd like to think that, instead of giving
up, I would try to be competitive at least.
When the going gets tough for Michi-
gan, its toughness disappears. This team
doesn't have the depth, the size or the
experience to win unless it outhustles
and outworks its opponents. That kind of
effort is not dependent on talent. After the
game, Ohio State's Brandi Hoskins said
the best thing about her team is that it
never stops trying, even when it has built
an insurmountable lead.
For the Wolverines right now, it's
not a matter of can't. It's a matter of not
believing they can.
In its past three games, against three
ranked opponents, Michigan has done
what it always does - stay close for
a while and then fall apart. Even last
night, the Wolverines were down by just
four points midway through the first
But then the other side of their pat-
tern kicks in. Once they're down, they're
out. Of course Michigan's youth and
limited rotation play a role. But even
more important is how it seems to just
Not that I should talk. I gave up on
this game at the end of the first half
and spent the next 17 minutes trying
to pay as little attention to this blowout
as possible. But then I realized that I
was doing exactly what I wanted to tell
Michigan not to do.
I watched the final three minutes of
the game as carefully as I had watched
the first 20. All I saw was a group of
players running a half-step slower
than usual. And after the final buzzer
sounded, they walked to the locker room
with their heads held even lower than at
Kelly Helvey applauded her team-
mates for sticking together in the final
minutes of games, no matter how lop-
sided the score. And from everything
I've seen, that's true. But there's a differ-
ence between supporting each other and
believing in each other. The Wolverines
are a close-knit group of players. But
in recent games, they haven't stopped
themselves from getting down when
their opponents build a large lead. And
once they're down, they don't have the
heart to come back.
If Michigan could have turned its
dejection into determination, maybe I
would have missed something by not
watching the game.
Last night, the only thing I missed
was even greater disappointment.
Stephanie Wright can be reached at
0 MEN'S BASKETBALL
Cagers confident despite losses
By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Editor
In seven games against top-25 teams
this season - the Wolverines dropped five
of those contests - they lost by an average
words, the mindset of the Michigan teams
that lost on the road to unranked Purdue
(1-8, 6-15) by 29 points and to Ohio State
The Michigan men's basketball has
dropped seven straight conference games.
Despite the Wolverines' recent losing
streak, guard Daniel Horton's legal trou-
bles and dropping nine of their past ten
games against Michigan State, the Wol-
verines' confidence level is unexpectedly
high going into tomorrow's game against
After losing 57-51 to No. 1 Illinois
on Tuesday, maybe Michigan should be
The Wolverines (3-7 Big Ten, 12-12
overall) has played its best basketball
against superior opponents.
of just eight points. If the 31-
point blowout to then-No.
4 Georgia Tech earlier in
the year is disregarded, the
margin shrinks to just four
points per game.
"We competed very hard
and very well against the
nation's best team," Michi-
gan coach Tommy Amaker
said. "I am hoping that,
No. 13 Michigan State
(5-5, 16-8) by 26 points
will not show up at Crisler
Arena tomorrow against
the No. 13 Spartans.
"We know that we have
to go and take them out,"
freshman Ron Coleman
said. "It's a big rivalry. They
showed us that they could
play hard at Breslin. We've
got to show them they are
possessions with good shot selections will
keep it competitive with Michigan State.
Amaker said he expects the crowd to be
"My wife told how she thought the
Maize Rage was phenomenal (against
Illinois)," Amaker said. "I usually get
feedback like that from her. I thought our
crowd was terrific. We are going to need
it on Saturday."
Amaker said "nothing has changed"
regarding Horton's status. Horton remains
"I knew he was going to court after the
Illinois game, so I did kind of look at it as
if he could return against Michigan State,"
Harris said. "We are behind him, and I
think he knows we are behind him."
within the realm of our program and our
players, we have the confidence to know
we stood toe-to-toe (with Illinois).
If the Wolverines take heed of Amaker's
coming into our house now, and it's going
to be a different ballgame."
Michigan hopes that limiting turnovers,
starting better to each half and having solid
Nystrom feels right at Omaha
By Ryan Sosin
Daily Sports Writer
Omaha has always been very good
to Michigan captain Eric Nystrom.
He scored his first collegiate goal
there - against Providence - and
tallied his first game
winner there as well.
Nystrom also garnered THIS V
one of the three CCHA
Rookie of the Week __
awards he earned his
freshman year during
Michigan's series against
When No. 6 Michigan
(17-3-2 CCHA, 20-7-3
overall) and Nebraska-
Omaha (11-8-3, 15-10-
3) play this weekend at
think that's one of the reasons he's
had such success."
Nystrom's first career goal came
in Nebraska - playing in the Mav-
erick Stampede tournament against
then-No. 6 Providence - when he
scored a key goal to maintain a sus-
tainable lead in Michi-
gan's 6-3 win.
EEKEND One night after Nys-
trom assisted Ortmeyer
thigan at on a game-tying-goal,
-Omah Ortmeyer picked off a
. Friday, puck in overtime and
Saturday set Nystrom up for the
ter Omaha first of his three career
, Neb. game-winning goals
against the Mavericks.
"Jed and I are simi-
lar type of players,"
Nystrom said. "These are the type
of games we love to play in. ... He
,would always play well, and because
of that, I just fed off of him, and we
made the plays together."
Nystrom and the Michigan offense
need a big weekend to fend off the
second-place Ohio State Buckeyes.
Following a pair of ties with Michi-
gan State, the Wolverines have just
a one-point lead over Ohio State in
the CCHA standings. The fourth-
place Mavericks will also look to
usurp Northern Michigan for third
place in the conference.
The last matchup came in the
opening round of the CCHA Tour-
nament, when Michigan took the
three-game series, 2-1, following a
comeback in the final stanza of the
"When they weren't supposed to
be a good team - at the end of last
year - I thought that's when their
team was at their best," Berenson
said. "In the series here, they played
their best hockey, in that three game
Center, it will mark the final trip for
Nystrom to the cornhusker state. Last
year, the Wolverines edged out the
regular season set 3-1-1.
"It's nice to come back to a place
where you know you've played well
and have some confidence," Nystrom
said. "That's always a bonus."
Nystrom has three game-winning
goals as part of his team-leading 11
points versus this week's opponent.
"I love the style of play they have,"
Nystrom said. "It's a hard working,
physical game; and those are the
games I feel I can excel in."
Part of his success came in thanks
to his former linemate, Jed Ortmey-
er. Ortmeyer, a former Wolverine
captain, is a native of Omaha and,
like Nystrom, seemed to pick up his
game when the Wolverines squared
off against Nebraska-Omaha.
"Ortmeyer was the leader on
this team, but when we went into
Omaha, it was like he put this team
on his back," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "They'd be running
at (Ortmeyer), and he'd run right
over them. I think Nystrom picked
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