By DeSherion McBroom | @dvo_maximus
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – Just five days after their previous meeting, fourth-seeded Michigan outlasted No. 13 Wisconsin in a 73-65 double-overtime victory that advanced the Wolverines to their first Big Ten semifinal since 2001.
The fifth multi-overtime in the 25-year history of the tournament came soon after Michigan’s 10-point victory in the final game of the regular season. That familiarity helped turn the game into a chess match.
“They just saw everything that we were all about,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes-Arico. “I mean, we did for them, too….And they were prepared for us, and we were prepared for them. Things that we got them with last week, they handled a lot better today in terms of our press. We really were able to frazzle them last game with our press, and today we really weren’t…
“In March it’s going to be madness,” she said, “and you’re going to see some different teams that are going to step up and be able to make great plays and win games. That’s why I want our kids to really celebrate this and enjoy this for a second because it easily could have gone the other way.”
Michigan (21-10) has won nine of its last 10 games. Senior center Hallie Thome scored 18 points to lead all scorers, including six in the second overtime. Freshman forward Naz Hillmon added 15, and sophomore forward Hailey Brown scored 12. Freshman guard Amy Dilk, the 2018 Indiana Miss Basketball, scored nine points and equaled her career high with nine rebounds, including two offensive rebounds in the second overtime period.
Wisconsin (15-18), the first 13th-seeded team to win a game since the tournament field was expanded in 2015, was not able to advance to its first semifinal appearance since 2010. The Badgers were led by sophomore guard Niya Beverley, who scored 15 points. Freshman forward Imani Lewis scored 13 points but made just five of 14 shots.
Senior forward Marsha Howard scored 12 points. Senior forward Kelly Karlis, who scored 24 points in the previous game against Ohio State, scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“They gave us everything they had,” Wisconsin coach Jonathan Tsipis said. We knew coming in that this was our sixth game in 11 days. It’s pretty remarkable this run we’ve had.”
A physical start made for a chess match for the entire game. There were 14 lead changes and the score was tied 12 times. Wisconsin’s biggest lead was three points. Michigan’s biggest lead in regulation time was seven points with 3:50 to go in the fourth quarter.
But a 9-2 run by Wisconsin – with Lewis scoring four of the points – tied the score at 58-58 with 23 seconds to go.
Michigan led, 63-60, after Hillmon’s layup with 1:41 to go in the first overtime. But Lewis scored off a fast break to bring the Badgers within a point with 43 seconds to go and tied the score at 63-63 with three seconds to go by making one of two free throws.
Thome, the tallest player in the game at 6 feet, 5 inches, became the deciding factor in the second overtime. Her two field goals and two free throws resulted in six of Michigan’s 10 points, enough to seal the game.
“Thanks to Hallie Thome doing a little bit of everything,” said Barnes-Arico. “She scored the basketball, she made some free throws down the stretch, but she also passed the ball exceptionally well. So her inside presence was able to get going down late.”