By Drew Hansen | @UnorthodoxDrew
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – Amy Dilk and Naz Hillmon combined for more than half of Michigan’s points, and a third-quarter surge sent the seventh-seeded Wolverines past No. 10 Nebraska, 81-75, in the second round of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday night.
Dilk, a sophomore guard who was Indiana’s Miss Basketball two years ago at nearby Carmel High School, scored 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting and had six assists. Hillmon, a sophomore forward, scored 20 points with seven rebounds – six at the offensive end — and five assists.
Michigan (20-10) advanced to a quarterfinal game against second-seeded Northwestern Friday evening. “We really tried to lock in on defense,” said Hillmon. “A lot of times our defense fuels our offense, and we needed to get stops first to push our transition, get those easy buckets, so I think locking in on defense led to those easy buckets.”
Michigan managed to draw two fouls on Nebraska’s primary shot blocker, 6-foot-5 junior center Kate Cain, within 75 seconds of playing time. Cain scored 12 points in just 15:06.
Nebraska sophomore Leigha Brown and freshman Isabelle Bourne came off the bench to keep the Cornhuskers close. Brown scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting with six assists. Bourne, a 6-foot-2 forward, made six of 11 shots, scored 16 points and blocked five shots. Nebraska’s bench outscored Michigan’s, 43-12.
Michigan, which trailed by as many as 14 points early in the second quarter, opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run. “We talked at half that most of the points they were getting were in our control,” said Dilk. “Off turnovers, transition defense, 3-pointers, just slowing down and making those adjustments we talk about all the time, going from talking about it to actually doing it.”
After Michigan opened the fourth hitting four of its first five shots, Nebraska couldn’t climb back into the game. Every time the Huskers managed to find a bucket, Michigan roared back down the court and negated that score with one of its own. Even when Michigan missed a shot, Hillmon led an overwhelming effort on the offensive end.
Michigan had 19 offensive rebounds to Nebraska’s nine. The Wolverines had 24 second-chance points to Nebraska’s 11. Nebraska, which seemed to be in position to take control of the game in the second quarter, faded in the final minutes. Michigan led by as many as 12 points with 5:54 to play.