February 18, 2005
- too much for Blue
* WOMEN'S~ SWIMMiNG & IVING
Relays propel 'M'
into second place
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
Coming into last night's game against
Purdue, the Michigan women's basketball
team knew it had to contain the Boilermak-
ers' two leading scorers - sophomores
Katie Gearlds and Erin Lawless - to have
But the Purdue
duo had other plans. MICHIGAN 4
After the Wolverines
held them to just 12 combined first-half
points, Gearlds and Lawless exploded in
the second, scoring 30 more points and
leading the Boilermakers (7-6 Big Ten,
14-10 overall) to a 63-43 blowout victory at
"They really go to their two go-to play-
ers, Lawless and Gearlds," Michigan coach
Cheryl Burnett said. "We knew we had to
shut them down. They do a great job of
getting them open and giving them really
great opportunities to score. And, basically,
that's what it came down to."
After Michigan senior BreAnne
McPhilamy drilled a jumper from the
elbow to cut the Purdue lead to 28-19 early
in the second half, Gearlds took over. She
unleashed an outside shooting barrage,
pouring in eight consecutive points in the
next three minutes. Gearlds scored 13 of
her 23 points in the first 10 minutes of the
second half, outscoring the entire Wolver-
ine squad 13-to-8 during that period.
"I found myself a little more wide open
than I usually am from the perimeter,"
With Gearlds torching them from long
range, the Wolverines (1-12, 5-19) needed
to find some offensive rhythm to stay close.
But Michigan simply couldn't buy a bucket.
The team shot a dismal 29.6 percent from
the field, its worst shooting performance
since Michigan's 60-43 loss in West Lafay-
ette on Jan. 9.
Even when Michigan managed to string
together a couple of baskets, it could never
really gain any momentum. After freshman
Ta'Shia Walker's drove for a layup midway
through the second half, senior co-captain
Tabitha Pool drilled a triple from the right
corner, cutting the Purdue lead to 12. But
Gearlds responded less than 20 seconds
later, swishing a three and sparking a 9-0
Purdue thwarted another Michigan
mini-run a few minutes later. Following a
put-back bucket from Walker - who fin-
ished with a team-high 18 points - Michi-
gan freshman Jessica Starling drilled a
3-pointer while freshman Becky Flippin
was simultaneously fouled. Flippin made
one-of-two free throws to cut the Purdue
lead to 11. But the Boilermakers struck
back with seven straight points, ending any
hopes of a Wolverine comeback.
"It felt good to actually get that lead and
Freshman Ta'Shla Walker put up 18 points in a losing effort against Purdue.
keep it," Lawless said. "They kind of had a
run there, but I thought we did a great job
of maintaining our composure and really
gutting it out."
Michigan went into halftime trailing 24-
16 after struggling through an extremely
sloppy first half. Purdue immediately
showed off some strong defensive intensity,
getting into passing lanes and pressuring
Michigan into mistakes. But ultimately,
the simple combination of butterfingers
and poor decision-making did in the Wol-
verines. The result: 14 first-half turnovers,
which led to 13 of the Boilermakers' 24
"That's just how the game was going
for us," McPhilamy said. "You can't fault
our effort, but passing and catching are just
fundamentals. And it wasn't working very
well for us, but we still kept confidence in
A scary moment hushed the crowd with
six minutes to go in the game. Pool came
down awkwardly after blocking a shot and
crumpled to the floor in obvious pain. But
after about a minute, the forward limped off
the court on her own power and returned to
the game a few minutes later.
With Pool out of the game, Lawless took
control. She scored nine of her 15 points
after Pool's injury, ensuring the lopsided
By Lindsey Ungar
For the Daily
After battling through illness and a
late-season loss to No. 14 Penn State,
the Michigan women's swimming and
diving team never dreamed that it would
find itself in second place at the midway
point of the Big Ten Championships.
Coach Jim Richardson was impressed
with the competition thus far.
"This team is performing excep-
tionally well," Richardson said. "I
don't know that we've ever had a team
perform this well the first two days of
The Wolverines have already totaled
199 points, fewer than just Penn State,
which has 238 points. With four first-
place and two second-place finishes, the
team is not only swimming consistently
but is also turning in top times.
On Wednesday night, the 800-yard
freestyle relay - composed of senior
Amy McCullough, freshman Justine
Mueller and sophomores Lindsey Smith
and Susan Gilliam - clocked a first-
place time of 7:09.42. It was not only an
automatic NCAA qualifying time but
also a season-best.
The four swimmers of the 800-yard
freestyle relay showed exactly why
the team is performing better than
McCullough had been fighting mono
all year but still gave the team a quick
leadoff leg, while Gilliam - who was
recently diagnosed with shingles -
kept the momentum going. Smith put in
a strong swim before freshman Mueller
finished off the win.
"(Mueller) is a real tough cookie,"
Richardson said. "She wasn't going to
let anyone catch her."
Michigan also tied for second in the
200-yard medley relay.
"I think the relays really pumped up
the team and brought the team togeth-
er," Mueller said. "There's four people
there together, trying to accomplish the
same goal, and you have someone to
share (victory) with."
Michigan's relay success continued yes-
terday with a school record and Big Ten
record of 1:29.56 in 200-yard freestyle.
Richardson also credits the under-
classmen with contributing to the Wol-
verines' fast start. Mueller finished first
in the 200-yard individual medley, and
sophomores Kaitlyn Brady and Smith
finished first and second in the 50-yard
freestyle, respectively. Mueller's win-
ning time of 1:57.78 - almost three
seconds ahead of the rest of the field
- automatically qualified her for the
2005 NCAA Championships.
"They're achievement-oriented, and
they're willing to work hard to win,"
The Wolverines didn't place in the
one-meter diving finals. But Rich-
ardson still looks forward to a solid
weekend from the entire team. The
coaches are telling the swimmers
and divers to stick toatheir routine in
hopes of remaining at the top of the
standings through tomorrow.
"If it's not broken, don't fix it," Rich-
ardson said. "We always talk about how
you want to dance the last dance with
the person that brought you here. We're
not changing anything in the end."
Self -destruction name of the game
As I left Crisler Arena last night, I didn't know
what to say about Michigan's loss - other than
it was the most disappointing of the season. I
couldn't find an overarching theme or a single statistic
that could sum up the frustration of the game.
That is, until I placed a
call to 1-800-555-TELL
- a service that provides
callers with sports scores,
weather reports, etc. - to
hear what it had to say
about the Wolverines.
And nothing could have
come closer to describing STEPHANIE WRIGHT
the game than the words
of that electronic voice. Wright on Target
destroyed by Purdue, 63-43.
That statement embodies most of what happened
last night. The Wolverines didn't just lose - they
This has happened before. The Wolverines lost their
last four games by an average of 22 points. While the
first two losses were closer than the final score indicates,
the last two weren't. Against No. 2 Ohio State last week,
Michigan was dominated by the Buckeyes in every way
possible. Last night was different. Purdue executed per-
fectly; every pass was crisp, and the Boilermakers got the
ball into the hands of their top scorers, Katie Gearlds and
Erin Lawless. But the Boilermakers are a slightly above-
average Big Ten team against whom Michigan should
have been able to hold its own. Not to detract from Pur-
due's resounding win, but ... it just wasn't that dominant.
So maybe the electronic voice wasn't entirely accu-
rate. Purdue didn't destroy Michigan as much as Michi-
gan destroyed itself.
As hard as they tried, the Wolverines couldn't seem
to do anything right. Unlike the passing clinic Purdue
held on its way to 16 assists, Michigan struggled to
execute a clean pass all night. It seemed like every time
a Wolverine tried to pass the ball, it went to the wrong
person or the wrong place. I think more Michigan
passes bounced off one of the Boilermakers' legs than
ended up as assists.-
Even when the Wolverines did something right, there
was a cruel irony to it. Despite struggling on the boards
in the second half, the Wolverines maintained a slight
36-35 rebounding advantage for the game. The disap-
pointing part was that Michigan's point output didn't
surpass its rebounding total until just 4:35 remained in
the game. That's not the way it's supposed to go.
Beyond the frustration of a 20-point loss to a beatable
team, the Wolverines were crushed in a manner that the
scoreboard can't reflect. Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett
entered the postgame press conference with tears in her
eyes and quickly received a comforting hug from senior
BreAnne McPhilamy. Burnett did her best to put her frus-
tration into words but just couldn't do it. The sadness of
yet another lopsided defeat speaks volumes.
And it could have been worse. Tabitha Pool - who
has been the team's everything all year - was injured
with just over six minutes remaining in the game. With-
out Pool, Purdue looked like an all-star team playing
against a group of hard-working second-stringers.
The silence that swept over Crisler Arena while Pool
was on the floor echoed the understanding that losing
Pool is tantamount to losing the season. That is one obsta-
cle the Wolverines simply would not be able to overcome.
Michigan doesn't seem to have an answer to its prob-
lems. I wish it could dial a telephone number and be
told exactly what to do to win another game, or, at the
very least, learn how to be competitive again. At this
point in the season, that might not seem like much.
But I bet the team would just like to leave a game
Stephanie Wright can be reached at
Sims and Harris can't carry team alone
By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan's 76-50 loss to Wisconsin,
as well its nine-game losing streak, might
best be described as a lack of coordination.
It seems that the Wolverines (3-9 Big Ten,
12-14 overall) just can't get their parts mov-
ing together all at once.
That was certainly the case Wednesday.
After two straight games in which sopho-
more guard Dion Harris had been respon-
sible for just less than half of Michigan's
total point output, the Wolverines were
pressing for another scoring threat.
They got that last night in sophomore
Courtney Sims, who led Michigan with 16
points in addition to Harris's 15.
But Sims's strong performances have
come during games that were already far
out of reach before Sims made an impact.
The center scored 15 points on Feb. 5 in
Columbus against Ohio State, a game that
Michigan lost 72-46.
"It was like this at Ohio
State, too," Sims said. "It's
tough, but sometimes you
just need to keep fighting."
The rest of the machine
that is Michigan's rusty
offense still needs some
tweaking. When Sims's and
Harris's performances are
subtracted from Wednes-
day's final box score, the rest
of the Wolverines shot 7-for-
22 from the field for just 19 points.
Ironically, it was the performance from
Michigan's role players that kept the team
afloat early in the losing streak. In Michi-
gan's 84-55 blowout at Purdue, the bench
combined for 26 points and played most
of the second half after Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker benched some starters.
The Michigan bench was responsible
for 20 points in Wednesday's loss, but 16
of those came from Sims. It's all part of the
theme of making everything work all at
once for the Wolverines.
"I think that's something we've been
trying to find," junior Graham Brown. "I
think that's one of the things we're really
searching for right now. We've had it for a
little bit, but it's been on and off."
Other parts of Michigan's offense that
might deliver a boost are just plain miss-
ing. Junior forward Chris Hunter left
Wednesday's game early in
the first half after aggravat-
[dAY ing his left ankle, an injury
that forced him to miss five
tan s games earlier in the season.
He gave it another go later
:30 p.m, in the half but remained
planted on the bench in the
Junior Daniel Horton's
absence is still affecting
the team as well. He has
missed seven gafnes due to suspension.
Michigan lost all seven of those games by
an average of 18.6 points. Horton began
practicing with the team on Tuesday, but
Amaker said his playing status is yet to be
"We've got to work as a machine and
we're not doing that right now," Sims said.
"I don't know, we're just not playing well as
a team right now."
Michigan's opponent this weekend is the
Indiana Hoosiers (6-5, 11-11), the team that
started Michigan's losing streak, beating
the Wolverines 62-53 on Jan. 19.
"We're not going to stop trying" Amak-
er said. "I'm confident our kids are going to
continue along that path of trying."
Michigan's offense, but he's
Sophomore Dion Harris has finally taken the lead inI
having a hard time getting any help.
M ICE HOCKEY
Last-place Irish still pose threat for Icers
By Jake Rosenwasser Tim Cook said. "They have a lot of skill, they have good
Daily Sports Writer (goalies) and we have to come out and play like we did
against them earlier in the year."
In CCHA play this season, the No. 5 Michigan hockey In December, the teams matched up for a home-and-
team has scored 104 goals. The last place Notre Dame has home series that Michigan dominated. The Wolverines
scored just 40. took the first game, 6-1, at Yost Ice Arena
In 2005, the Wolverines are 8-2-2, while and won the finale, 8-0, in South Bend.
the Fighting Irish have gone just 0-10-2 since Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin said
a win on Jan. 2. that the first game was closer than the
But Michigan coach Red Berenson has A..... final score indicated.
Tonight's game in Fort Wayne will be Notre Dame's
first "home" game at the Allen County Memorial Coli-
seum. The Notre Dame administration got a hint that there
might be considerable fan interest in the event, after last
year's Irish men's basketball team hosted a postseason NIT
game in Fort Wayne and sold out the arena less than 24
hours after the game was announced.
But the people of Fort Wayne like their hockey, too.
Yesterday, Poulin said that 8,000 out of 10,300 tickets for
tonight's game had been sold.