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March 29, 2010 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-29

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4B - Monday, March 29, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

M' obliterates fourth
straight WNIT foe

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Blue relishes home-court edge

6

From Page 1A
They dominated the first half in
every aspect. Michigan forced
13 turnovers and shot 56 percent
from behind the arc. And the Wol-
verines outrebounded the orange
16-11.
Syracuse just couldn't climb
out of the massive deficit in the
second half.
The Wolverines' shooting
cooled down but they still seemed
to score every time that the
Orange rallied.
"I told the kids that it will take
the last 10 minutes to win this
game," Michigan coach Kevin

Borseth said.
The Wolverines really did put
those last 10 minutes together.
They finished by taking out their
five starters, somethingthat is not
expected nor likely in a WNIT
quarterfinal matchup.
The Wolverines advance to
the WNIT semifinal where they
will play Miami on Wednesday at
Crisler Arena.
This is Michigan's first time
playing five games at home in the
WNIT.
As Hicks left the press confer-
ence she tilted her head back and
looked up. "Thank you lord," she
screamed. "Final four."

By ALEX HERMANN
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's basket-
ball team has played the first four
rounds of the Women's National
Invitation Tour-
nament (WNIT) NOTEBOOK
at home this year.
And outside the team's game
against Toledo last weekend - for
which Rocket fans noticeably out-
numbered Michigan fans - play-
ing in the confines of Crisler Arena
has been a large part of the Wolver-
ines' success.
Michigan has won by an average
of more than 24 points per game
- the latest being a 26-point win
Sunday over Syracuse.
"In this tournament (home
court advantage) is big," Syracuse
coach Quentin Hillsman said. "I
don't know how much home court
had to do with the way we per-
formed today, but I think it had a
lot to do with the way Michigan
performed. They were home, they
were comfortable."
The Wolverines play at home
again in the final four of the WNIT
on Wednesday against Miami.
The Hurricanes made their first
road trip yesterday in the postsea-
son, defeating Providence 73-65.
The host site is determined by a
combination of factors, including
attendance and crowd atmosphere.
And being chosen yet again is
undoubtedly a major boost for the
Wolverines.
"Crowds are everything for us,"
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth
said after the game. "From our per-
spective, I hope we're building a
fanbase because that's really what
this is, postseason play."
With yesterday's crowd the best
it has been possibly all season, the
team hopes that as it gets even
deeper into the tournament that
the excitement surrounding the
program will grow proportion-
ately.
"I'm hoping Wednesday we can
really lure a lot people out here,"
Borseth said. "It's going to be a
great night obviously, because
there'll be not alot on TV, not a lot
going on. It's a Wednesday, should
be a great day for basketball to fill
Crisler. I think our record is 5,500,
I think we can get 13 grand. I would
love to see that."
The Wolverines set the record

0

Junior Veronica Hicks finished the afternoon with a career-high 24 points. The junior was a force on defense with tour steals
and helped the Wolverines give Syracuse its first non-conference loss this season. Michigan advances to the WNIT semifinals,

39
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2010 NISSAN ALTIMA
DO ,
39
MO.
LEASE
2010 NISSAN ROGUE
IO! ... -
39
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LEASE
2010 NISSAN MAXIMA
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for attendance this year against
Penn State on Jan. 31 with 5,926
fans. Crisler's current capacity is
13,751.
UP-TEMPO SUCCESS: Michigan
has had the most success offen-
sively throughout the season when
it can get out in the open court and
run.
Against a very long and athletic
Syracuse team, the Wolverines
converted 23 Orange turnovers
into 24 points.
"I think we prefer to play at a
quicker pace, that's what we're bet-
ter at," Borseth said. "We had some
nice breaks, nice breakouts and
got some transition baskets. But
I think for the most part we were
very smart, I guess. We made good

decisions in transition."
The team's ability in the open
court is a big factor behind its aver-
age of 71 points per game in the
WNIT - up about 10 points per
game from the conference season.
On Wednesday, Michigan may
be faced with similar opportuni-
ties in the open court, when they
take on Miami.
"They like to press," Borseth
said of the Hurricanes. "They're
very pressing, up-tempo, in your
face. They press. They come and
get you."
MAKING HISTORY, LEADING
THE BIG TEN: The Wolverines (21-
13) are just two wins shy of tying
the program's all-time record
for wins in a season. Michigan.

BIG TENS
From Page 1B
was enough for second place out
of 19 performers. At the end of the
event, she trailed Nittany Lion
senior Brandi Personett by .025 of
a point.
Curtis's usual competitor for the
Wolverines' top spot, junior Kylee
Botterman, suffered an unchar-
acteristic fall on the bars, but her
teammates picked up their pace to
adjust.
Freshman Natalie Beilstein -
who was named to the Big Ten
Second Team, and was a finalist
for Big Ten Freshman of the Year
this weekend - continued her
dominant season in the champion-
ship.
"Unbelievable," Plocki said,
describing the freshman's perfor-
mance. "Natalie has been outstand-
ing, and I'm a little disappointed
that she wasn't voted freshman of

would tie the record if they won
the WNIT, which would be the
first time the program has won a
national tournament.
To do that, the Wolverines will
need to win on Wednesday and
then beat the winner of Califor-
nia and Illinois State in the WNIT
finals.
When the Redbirds defeated
Illinois on Sunday, Michigan was
left as the last team in the Big Ten
still playing.
"We just have this fire in us
that wants to prove to everybody
else that we can compete with any
team in the nation," junior guard
Veronica Hicks said. "We just want
to go out there and prove a point,
you know, that we're here to stay."
the year, but she is going home with
some hardware regardless."
Beilstein posted a pair of 9.900
scores on the floor routine and the
vault, and took home top laurels on
the vault, taking first out of 42 ath-
letes.
"Coming out on the floor I want-
ed to go big, I wanted to go hard,
and that's what I did," Beilstein
said. "On vault I knew to get that
good score you had to stick it, and
that's what I went out there and
did."
Now secured among the nation's
best programs, everything will
come down to execution as the
team gears up for the NCAA
Regional finals in two weeks.
"We don't really have that much
to work on," Curtis said. "We
can always work on the little tiny
things that need to be fixed, but
after this meet and going to region-
als we just want to carry on what
we've been doing all year and make
it to nationals."

Freshman Natalie Beilstein was named to the Big Ten second team, and was a
finalist for the Big Ten Freshman of the Year Award.

BASEBALL
Oaks dominates opening-day start

4

By CAITLIN SMITH
Daily Sports Writer
Senior pitcher Alan Oaks threw
the first pitch of the year at the Ray
Fisher Stadium on Friday after-
noon as the Michigan baseball team
kicked off its home opener in Ann
Arbor. But Oaks wasn't the only
one who kept Indiana University
- Purdue University Fort Wayne
swinging.
Michigan (12-9) swept the
three-game series with help from
its pitching staff. A total of 10
Wolverines took the mound over
the course of the weekend. Oaks
earned the 10-2 decision on Fri-
day, pitching five innings and
striking out five batters. Although
he threw a strong 83 pitches, Oaks
wasn't as sharp as he has been,
allowing both Mastodon runs.
"When you leave the ball up in
the zone, anyone can hit it," Oaks
said. "And to give them credit, I
missed a couple spots and they put
good swings on it and got hits."
But IPFW couldn't defend
against the powerful Michigan
bats. Back-to-back doubles by
senior first baseman Mike Dufek
and senior outfielder Nick Urban
gave the Wolverines a 2-0 lead

in the second inning. Sophomore
third baseman John Lorenz then
pushed Urban across home plate
with a single.
Sophomore designated hitter
Coley Crank answered an IPFW
run in the top of the third by
launching a two-run homer - his
sixth of the season and the first
home run at home. Crank also
extended his career-best hitting
streak to eight games.
Michigan piled up the runs dur-
ing the fourth and fifth innings to
extend its lead to eight. Crank,
Dufek, and senior catcher Chris
Berset tallied a combined seven
RBIs and four runs.
"You've just got to stay with
your approach, just looking for
good pitches to hit," Berset said.
"Luckily, I found some holes on
some of them and hit a few balls."
The hitting saga continued into
Saturday as the Wolverines took
8-0 and 12-3 wins in their dou-
ble-header. Freshman outfielder
Patrick Biondi led the Michigan
batters in game one by hitting a
triple in the first inning. The oth-
ers followed with four singles and
a double by Berset to give the Wol-
verines a 4-0 advantage.
"I obviously had goals for

myself," Biondi said. "First and
foremost, it was getting on base
and setting the table for some of
our bigger hitters. But I've been
fortunate to hit some balls hard
and get good results and hopefully
I'll stay to the plan and it'll keep
happening."
A home run by Lorenz in the
fpurth inning blew the game open,
giving Michigan an eight-run
lead. Redshirt sophomore pitcher
Bobby Brosnahan led the Wolver-
ines on the mound by striking out
a career-high eight batters while
holding the Mastodons scoreless.
Junior pitchers Tyler Burgoon
and Kolby Wood both came in
for relief, striking out five batters
each in order to secure the shut-
out.
The final game of the series
turned out to be a comeback win
for Michigan. After scoring two
runs in the first, the Wolverines
had a momentary lapse in the sec-
ond. Junior pitcher Matt Miller
struggled on the mound, hitting
a batter and giving up three runs
to the Mastodons - two of which
were home runs - giving IPFW
a 3-2 lead. Despite a shaky start,
Miller gained control and didn't
allow any more Mastodon runs.,

"As far as Miller being where
he wants to be or where we'd like
him to be at this point, obviously
that didn't occur," Maloney said.
"But I feel like that before the last
few outings he didn't have a true
out pitch and I thought he showed
it. He struck out five guys, but he
struck out three on balls to the
dirt - with hard breaking balls to
the dirt - which he hadn't been
able to earlier."
The Wolverines scored one
run each in the third and fourth
innings, giving them a 4-3 lead.
Michigan maintained its advan-
tage for the rest of the game,
extending the lead with a five-run
rally in the end of the eighth.
Michigan extended its winning
streak to a season-best six games
in a row. The Wolverines may have 4
finally found a productive combi-
nation of pitching and hitting in
the same game.
"We only gave up five runs the
whole weekend," Michigan coach
Rich Maloney said. "We also only
made one error all weekend and
we had over 5 hits for the whole
weekend. That's three parts of
the puzzle I think we did pretty
well, so it was a solid weekend of
baseball."

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