Dickinson, No. 20 Michigan shuck Ohio’s late shot, win in OT

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The wildest play of the game belonged to the Bobcats. The win, eventually, went to the Wolverines.

Hunter Dickinson scored 24 points and had 14 rebounds as No. 20 Michigan, startled by a crazy buzzer-beater at the end of regulation, beat Ohio 70-66 in overtime Sunday.

“I’m exhausted,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said.

Down 63-61 with 2.1 seconds left in the second half, Ohio threw a length-of-the-court inbounds pass that hit the far rim. After a lucky bounce and a short miss, Dwight Wilson tossed in a floater to tie it as time expired.

As several Wolverines stared in disbelief, the basket stood after a video review and forced overtime.

Michigan (4-1) had taken a late lead when Kobe Bufkin was fouled after he grabbed a rebound of a missed Ohio shot with 2.1 seconds left and the score 61-all. Bufkin made both free throws, setting up Wilson’s basket.

The Wolverines ended up outscoring Ohio 7-3 in overtime.

“I feel like I played for 45 minutes, and I didn’t run up and down the floor. So I know those young men must be extremely tired,” Howard said.

“I have to give credit to Ohio,” he said. “I’m not going to say we came out flat. Ohio did some good things out there that caused some of our missed shots and seven offensive rebounds in the first half, which gave them seven extra possessions. They did some really good things in the first half.”

Jett Howard added 13 for the Wolverines.

Wilson had 21 points to lead Ohio (1-3), while Jaylin Hunter had 14 points and Miles Brown 11.

“We’re really proud of our guys,” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. “Coming off the loss at Detroit, we had a couple good days of practice. They responded and competed right from the start.”

Ohio led most of the first half, but Michigan went on a 15-4 run to end the half to take a 33-31 lead. Dickinson scored Michigan’s last eight points, ending the run with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

It was the first meeting between the schools since March 16, 2012, when Ohio beat Michigan 65-60 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Michigan had won the previous three meetings.

Both were coming off of lopsided losses: Ohio lost at Detroit Mercy 88-74 on Wednesday, and Michigan lost 87-72 to Arizona State on Thursday.

“I think it shows toughness,” Bufkin said. “Being able to find a way to win is always important, especially when you’re getting into the tournaments. You don’t always want to be in those situations, but sometimes it’s good to be in that experience.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A narrow win over a Mid-American Conference opponent likely won’t improve Michigan’s ranking when the latest poll comes out.

BIG PICTURE

It was the first of three consecutive home games for Michigan after three in a row on neutral sites. Ohio begins a three-game homestand of its own on Friday.

UP NEXT

Ohio: Home vs. Eastern Illinois on Friday.

Michigan: Hosts Jackson State on Wednesday.

No. 25 Michigan women win 18th straight at home

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William Purnell/USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Laila Phelia scored a career-high 20 points, Emily Kiser added 15 points and No. 25 Michigan opened its season with an 83-30 victory over Delaware State on Wednesday night.

The Wolverines have won 18 straight at Crisler Center, the nation’s fifth-longest active streak.

Michigan scored the first 14 points of the game while Delaware State turned it over seven times and missed three shots. The Wolverines led 40-18 at halftime after holding the Hornets to 5-of-24 shooting. Deyonce Thompson made Delaware State’s first four field goals and she had 13 of the 18 first-half points.

Michigan used a 28-0 run spanning the third-quarter break to build a 47-point lead as Delaware State missed 11 straight shots.

Phelia and Kiser are two of the four top-five scorers returning from last year’s 25-7 squad. Phelia made 8 of 11 shots, including four 3-pointers, and Kiser had six rebounds and five assists.

Thompson finished with 15 points for Delaware State (0-2), which lost to Michigan State 86-37 on Monday.

Michigan plays St. Francis (Pa.) on Friday. Prior to the game, the Wolverines will raise their 2022 Elite Eight banner.

Louisville beats Michigan 62-50 to return to Final Four

William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
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WICHITA, Kan. – Hailey Van Lith scored 22 points, Olivia Cochran made a series of crucial baskets in the final minutes, and Louisville held off Michigan 62-50 in a physical game Monday night to return to the Final Four for the fourth time in program history.

Chelsie Hall added 15 points and Emily Engstler balanced out a poor shooting night with 16 rebounds and some big plays on defense, helping the top-seeded Cardinals (29-4) advance to face South Carolina next weekend in Minneapolis.

The No. 3 seed Wolverines (25-7) were within 52-50 with less than 3 minutes to go when the Cardinals, using some nifty ball movement to get out of a half-court trap, found Cochran for an easy layup. Then at the other end, Michigan star Naz Hillmon was called for charging, and Cochran added another bucket to give Louisville some breathing room.

The Cardinals finished off their second win over the Wolverines this season from the foul line.

Hillmon finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolverines, who held their first three tourney opponents under 50 points to reach their first regional final, but were unable to hold down the Cardinals for the full 40 minutes.

The start resembled the two teams’ matchup in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge – much to the Wolverines’ chagrin – as coach Kim Barnes Arico’s team missed its first eight shots and allowed a heavily pro-Louisville crowd to get energized.

Unlike that game in January, though, when the Cardinals unspooled a 25-2 run spanning the first two quarters and cruised to a lopsided 70-48 victory, the Maize and Blue decided to put up a fight with the Final Four at stake.

Maddie Nolen came off the bench to drop two 3-pointers. Hillmon went to work inside, getting easy buckets at the rim when she wasn’t getting the Cardinals in foul trouble. And talented freshman Laila Phelia, who perhaps best epitomizes the direction of a program on the rise, managed to shake her defender for a couple of easy baskets.

The problem for Michigan soon became turnovers – hardly surprising given the Cardinals had forced more than 20 a game in the tournament. So while the Wolverines were stingy in the half court defensively, Louisville capitalized on 11 turnovers with 14 points in transition, and that helped Jeff Walz’s crew take a 30-27 lead into the break.

The biggest reason Michigan was able to hang around despite 22 turnovers and atrocious 3-point shooting was a massive disparity at the foul line. The Wolverines were 15 of 20 on their free throws while the Cardinals shot just five total until they were sent there for four more in the final minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan has made big strides under Barnes Arico, reaching the Sweet 16 last season and getting within one win of its first Final Four this season. Young players such as Phelia show there is much more to come in Ann Arbor, too.

Louisville has never won a national championship despite becoming a perennial contender under Walz over the past 15 seasons. The Cardinals get another shot to finally cut down the nets.

Early loss at Louisville on Michigan’s mind ahead of Elite 8

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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WICHITA, Kan. — Michigan’s first loss of the season was a doozy.

The Wolverines were blown out 70-48 at Louisville on Dec. 2, their second-largest margin of defeat.

Nearly four months later, Michigan has a chance to avenge that loss on a grand stage. The third-seeded Wolverines (25-6) face the top-seeded Cardinals (28-4) in the women’s Elite Eight on Monday night with a trip to the Final Four at stake.

Michigan’s players say much has changed since that rough night when the Wolverines committed 24 turnovers and shot 37% from the field.

“It was early on in our season and we were still figuring some things out,” Michigan guard Danielle Rauch said. “Playing at Louisville is a really difficult thing to do. So we definitely were shocked in that situation. But I think we’ve grown a lot since then and gone through a lot of different things throughout this season to prepare us to play them again.”

Michigan’s Naz Hillmon was held to 12 points – nine points under her current average. The first-team All-American said it was the first time she saw such intense defensive pressure.

“We really figured out, you know, if people are doubling and tripling me, how to put people in their best spots to be a contributor to our team and focusing on slowing down the game for us sometimes,” Hillmon said.

Louisville has moved on, but knows Monday won’t be easy.

“I would say we just can’t take that game into account,” Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith said. “We can look at it for things that went well for us, but it’s March. Everyone is going to put their best foot forward, everyone is going to fight.”

The Cardinals also have something to prove, having reached the Final Four three times and the national title game twice but never the championship.

“As a senior, obviously, getting to go to a Final Four would be everything,” Louisville guard Kianna Smith said. “I would say our goal is to win it all. We don’t want to sell ourselves short. We want to do something that Louisville has never done before and that’s win a national championship, but we’re not looking too far ahead. We’re taking it one game at a time and enjoying all the little moments together.”

HILLMON’S RUN

Hillmon is a dynamic interior presence who averages 21.2 points per game on 59% shooting for the season. In three NCAA Tournament games, despite getting extra defensive attention, those numbers have spiked to 22.7 points on 69% shooting.

“We talk about All-Americans and Players of the Year, and Naz Hillmon is still playing, and she is playing her best basketball right now and she’s doing things that are absolutely off the charts,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “I just think she doesn’t want it to end, and she knows at any second it can. … Almost the bigger the game, the more important the game, the more she is able to turn it up. It’s really a special thing.”

ENGSTLER’S INSTINCTS

Emily Engstler is a key part of Louisville coach Jeff Walz’s disruptive defense. Engstler led the ACC with 2.59 steals per game and made the league’s all-defense team.

“I think she is a difference maker,” Barnes Arico said. “You have a 6-2 (listed at 6-1) athlete that she is and can move so well, can block shots so well, can play and probably defend any position one through five. I think he (Walz) gives her the freedom to roam around and to be able to double, to be able to be a pest, to be able to just go run at somebody.”

Engstler also averages 12.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest.

FABULOUS FRESHMAN

Michigan guard Laila Phelia scored the go-ahead layup in the final minute against South Dakota on Saturday – an answer to requests by Barnes Arico and teammates that she become more aggressive.

“So once I knew the clock was running down, at that point, I knew I needed to attack the basket,” Phelia said of the shot that put Michigan ahead by two. “And I felt like my teammates gave me a lot of confidence right before I did end up going in, and they told me, now is not the time to hesitate.”

MASKED WOMAN

Louisville forward Olivia Cochran was hit in her left eye in the game against Tennessee on Saturday. A day later, she sat at the podium sporting a black eye that was swollen and mostly closed. She said she will wear a mask against Michigan.

“I’m doing fine,” Cochran said. “The game was pretty physical, but that’s just the sport.”

Cochran averages 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 51% from the field.

VAN LITH LAUNCHING

Van Lith has been exceptional lately. She’s averaging 21.3 points per game during the NCAA Tournament in three games – up seven points from her overall season scoring average. She had 23 points and six assists against Tennessee.

Hillmon’s 17 put Michigan women past S. Dakota in Sweet 16

William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
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WICHITA, Kan. — Michigan earned its chance to keep making history, and believed in it.

The third-seeded Wolverines reached the Elite Eight for the first time with a 52-49 win over tenth-seeded South Dakota on Saturday night, helped by Naz Hillmon’s 17 points and 10 rebounds and Laila Phelia’s 14 points – including a go-ahead layup in the final minute.

“We have players that came in here with this vision and this belief that they could do something incredibly special,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “They wanted to be a part of that Block M and that excellence, and here we are sitting at the table going to the Elite Eight. It’s just a dream like you could never imagine, but it’s people that came together and created something incredibly special. It’s awesome.”

Michigan (25-6) will play No. 1 seed Louisville on Monday with a trip to the Final Four at stake. The teams met earlier this season on Dec. 2, when Louisville beat Michigan 70-48.

South Dakota (29-6) was trying to become just the fifth double-digit seed to reach the Elite Eight. The Coyotes had won 27 of 28 and were coming off a stunning upset of No. 2 seed Baylor.

“It’s hard to lose,” South Dakota coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “You always want one more. But it certainly wasn’t from a lack of effort, lack of anything. We just needed to make one more play in all reality.”

Hannah Sjerven had 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out for the Coyotes. Chloe Lamb, the Summit League Player of the Year who averaged 16 points per game, was held to just six points.

Lamb said the fact that South Dakota had a historic season won’t ease her short-term pain.

“Losing sucks for a lot of reasons,” she said. “I think one of those being you forget all the good stuff that happened, right?”

The Coyotes nearly pulled off another win. With the crowd overwhelmingly on their side, they held the Wolverines without a field goal for 3:40 to start the game and led for much of the first half.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Grace Larkins put the Coyotes ahead 25-23 in the second quarter, and they led 26-24 at the break thanks to 11 points from Sjerven. Phelia, who had averaged just under nine points per game for the season, scored 12 in the first half to keep Michigan in the game.

Michigan took a 39-38 lead into the fourth quarter, with Hillmon scoring nine points in the third.

A mid-range jumper by Lamb rattled in to tie the game at 48 with 48.5 seconds remaining.

Phelia made a layup with 22 seconds remaining, and Brown later made two free throws to put the Wolverines up by four.

South Dakota’s Maddie Krull made the first of two free throws to cut Michigan’s lead to 52-49 with 7.5 seconds left. She unintentionally missed the second, and there was a scramble for the ball before it went out of bounds. It wasn’t immediately clear whom the ball last touched, but South Dakota got it after the referees’ review.

But the Coyotes couldn’t get a clean look, with Kyah Watson missing a 3 as time expired.

“I think we were probably outsized in every position and maybe out-athleticized in all positions, and to our ladies’ credit they kept fighting and competing and found a way to be in that game and have an opportunity,” Plitzuweit said. “I’m proud of our young ladies for what they did.”

BIG PICTURE

South Dakota: Lamb, Sjerven and Liv Korngable are super-seniors who came back to make a run. They did that, nearly propelling the Coyotes to the Elite Eight for the first time. The other two starters are freshmen. With that foundation and the support the Coyotes received along the way, the program appears to be in good hands.

Michigan: The Wolverines got off to a rough start in what was essentially a road environment and scraped out a win despite Hillmon – a first-team All-American – going scoreless in the first quarter.

“I think sometimes my defense gets me going … I knew if I could continue that motor and get my teammates second opportunities by getting offensive boards, that would help me and I can get into the flow of things,” she said.

STAT LINES

Sjerven played 28 minutes and made 7 of 11 shots. She picked up all five of her fouls in the second half and played just nine minutes after the break. When she fouled out, the Michigan bench celebrated wildly.

CROWD PARTICIPATION

Thousands of South Dakota fans made the trip, and they were active throughout the game. Even after the game, they started a “U-S-D” chant as the Michigan band played its school song. Lamb referred to the crowd as a “sea of red.”

QUOTABLE

Barnes Arico at the postgame media session: “I’m not sure what I look like. I borrowed some clothes to get here because we had a celebration in the locker room.”

Samuels powers Villanova over Michigan 63-55 in Sweet 16

Kirthmon F. Dozier/USA TODAY NETWORK
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SAN ANTONIO — The Villanova Wildcats have made quite a second home for themselves in the Alamo City, where they won a national championship in 2018 and are carving a path toward another.

Jermaine Samuels scored 22 points, Collin Gillespie scored 12 and made a key 3-pointer late, and Villanova controlled Michigan in a 63-55 Sweet 16 victory on Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament.

Samuels and Gillespie were freshmen in that title run a few years ago. Now, they are grizzled veterans and long-time starters who are still around because of the extra season of eligibility due to the pandemic.

They’re also the driving force for second-seeded Villanova (28-7), which advanced to the South Region final to play the winner of Thursday night’s matchup between top seed Arizona and No. 5 seed Houston. It’s the deepest run in the tournament for Villanova since coach Jay Wright won the second of his two national titles in 2018 – against Michigan.

Samuels’ 8-of-13 shooting performance, much of it coming on tough drives through Michigan defenders and around Wolverines 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson, carried a Wildcats offense that had long stretches of misfiring on 3-pointers.

Samuels battled Dickinson on both ends of the court, and challenged the big man every time he had the ball to divert shots or force outlet passes.

“I just wanted to stay mobile and move,” Samuels said. “He’s a phenomenal player, so he’s going to get great looks at the basket. But that I have teammates behind me gave me all the confidence I needed.”

The loss ends a turbulent season for the Wolverines (19-15) and coach Juwan Howard, whose team squeaked into the tournament field only to shine in the first two rounds. Howard was suspended for five games late in the season for hitting a Wisconsin assistant during a postgame handshake line.

“We learned a lot (about) who we are,” Howard said. “We always talk about Michigan being a family. We’ve been the most connected group this year because of the fact everyone has been supporting each other. When I walk away from this season, and I look back, there’s no reason not to hold your head up high.”

Villanova twice threatened to pull away in the second half, but the Wolverines matched Nova’s 3-point shooting in spurts to hang around. Guard Eli Brooks kept rescuing Michigan with 3-pointers, making 3 of 5. One of Brooks’ 3s, plus two free throws from Terrance Williams II, had the Wolverines within 54-50 with just over 3 minutes left.

Michigan had plenty of tournament experience to lean on. They had fought back from halftime deficits against Colorado State and Tennessee to make the Sweet 16 for the fifth consecutive year.

But after Dickinson, who led the Wolverines with 15 points and 15 rebounds, missed near the basket, Samuels blew by him on the other end for a layup. Gillespie followed it with a 3-pointer – his fourth of the game- from the left wing to make it 59-50 with 1:52 to play.

That was the cushion the Wildcats needed, as Michigan closed within six points before Samuels made four three throws over the final 13 seconds to put it away.

Defensively, Villanova refused to yield space under the basket to Michigan’s big man, who came in averaging 24 points in Michigan’s two NCAA Tournament wins. Dickinson was 6 of 16 shooting.

“We asked a lot of (Samuels) him on the defensive end guarding Dickinson a lot. And then on the offensive end, we’re trying to move Dickinson around,” Wright said. “Which it sounds good unless you’re guy that’s got to go. You’re running around, setting screens, cutting to make him follow you … He never wanted to come out.”

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Guard DeVante’ Jones was back in the starting lineup. He missed the Wolverines’ first-round game against Colorado State because of concussion protocols, and was held out of the second half of the second-round win over Tennessee when his symptoms returned. He scored seven and had five rebounds against Villanova, also left the game briefly in the second half when he fell hard to the floor chasing a loose ball.

Villanova: The Wildcats have been launching 3-pointers all season and there was nothing to deter them when they weren’t falling against the Wolverines. The Wildcats were 9 of 30 from long range – their ninth game this season with at least 30 attempts. The most was 50 in a win over Syracuse.

“We have a saying, `Shoot ’em up, sleep in the streets,”‘ Wright said. “We’re OK if we’ve got open shots.”

FAB FIVE

Howard’s former Michigan teammates Jalen Rose and Ray Jackson from the “Fab Five” era that played for two national titles were in the Michigan cheering section. Rose stood the entire game, wearing a hoodie that said “Black As Hail.” Jackson wore a yellow “Wolverine Culture” shirt.

INJURED WILDCAT

Before the game, Villanova announced freshman guard Jordan Longino’s season was done. He needs arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He was hurt in practice on March 16 and didn’t play in the tourney. longino played in 26 games this season, averaging 8.8 minutes and 1.8 points.

“We’re all crushed for Jordan that this injury has prevented him from playing in the NCAA Tournament,” Wright said.