Women's Basketball

Sophomore guard Amy Dilk led the Wolverines to a win over Michigan State uncharacteristically with her free throws

Amy Dilk, while sinking another free throw, looked over to the bench and smirked. It was her game, her court, her win. The sophomore guard scored nine of the last 10 points for the Michigan women’s basketball team, all from the charity stripe, on her way to lead the Wolverines to a 65-57 victory over Michigan State.

.

Three minutes and 32 seconds remained when junior forward Hailey Brown committed an offensive foul — her fifth, ending her night. A minute passed, and senior guard Akienreh Johnson committed her fifth. On the ensuing inbound, Michigan State guard Tory Ozment lost the ball. On the other end, her fellow guard Taryn McCutcheon fouled Michigan sophomore guard Amy Dilk. Dilk made both free throws. In the few minutes of basketball that remained, she made six more, helping the Wolverines escape East Lansing with a 65-57 victory over the Spartans.

Senior guard Akienreh Johnson has had to step up as a leader lately while the Wolverines deal with injuries.

An hour before Wednesday’s game against Illinois, Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico took Akienreh Johnson to the side. The senior guard, after watching her best friend go down with an injury, the emotional leader of the team following suit and the best player on the team battling through her own injuries, had seen her responsibility on the team grow exponentially over the course of the last few weeks.

.

The Wolverines just watched Illinois guard Brandi Beasley drive the length of the Crisler Center floor in five seconds, sinking a layup to give the Fighting Illini — the No. 13 team in the Big Ten — a one-point lead entering the break. It was a fitting end to a first half where Illinois shot 56.7 percent, including an electric 8-for-13 from three.

Sophomore center Naz Hillmon played an instrumental part in Michigan's win over Illinois.

Powered by a first quarter in which it shot 11-for-16 from the floor and 6-for-8 from 3-point range, Illinois led the Wolverines for much of the first half. Michigan didn’t take a lead until 44 seconds remaining in the half, but a coast-to-coast layup by Fighting Illini guard Brandi Beasley as time expired put Illinois back on top by one entering halftime.

The Michigan women's basketball team lost to Rutgers, 62-41, on Sunday.

But with the absence of Robbins and Rauch, almost every other player on the roster had to play significantly more minutes than they had before. While many players were able to handle playing more for a while, fatigue clearly hurt Michigan in a 62-41 loss to Rutgers on Sunday.

The Michigan women's basketball team must try to survive with eight fully healthy players.

Sunday, Michigan finally found a problem that culture can’t fix. Make no mistake, its ability to respond to adversity this season has been nothing short of tremendous. Very few teams start the season with just 11 players on the roster. Even fewer would be able to compete after losing two key players to injury. None would be able to win after losing a Naz Hillmon.

On Sunday, sophomore forward Naz Hillmon was held to just five points in the Michigan women's basketball team's loss to Rutgers.

Down by eight with under 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter of Sunday’s game, senior guard Akienreh Johnson drove down the right side of the key, looking to cut into Rutgers’ lead. After an abysmal first offensive half, a bucket would send the Wolverines to the locker room at the Rutgers Athletic Center down by just six, with an opportunity to regroup and come out more motivated in the third quarter. But in came Mael Gilles.

Senior guard Akienreh Johnson slowed down Northwestern star guard Lindsey Pulliam, but it was still not enough for a win.

Pulliam scored a season-high 32 points, 22 of which came in the second half. She almost singlehandedly delivered the Wolverines an eight-point loss. Over the two weeks since that loss, Michigan’s biggest challenge in preparing for the rematch was how to contain her. Without Pulliam’s dominance, the Wolverines felt that they could pull off their biggest win of the season.

Sophomore point guard Amy Dilk drives to the basket in a 66-60 loss to Northwestern.

The win slipped away, and despite the fight, Northwestern (21-3 overall, 11-2 Big Ten) beat Michigan (16-8, 7-6), 66-60.