Maize&BlueReview – Michigan overcomes horrific start, Brown scores 29 in rivalry victory
When Michigan fell behind 10-0 early on Sunday afternoon going to Michigan State at the Breslin Center, things didn’t seem to be going in the right direction. Laila Phelia, the team’s leading scorer, did not make the trip to East Lansing due to a leg injury, and sophomore Greta Kampschroeder also did not travel.
However, Michigan was able to fight through adversity and come away with an impressive 77-67 victory over Michigan State in East Lansing.
Michigan State’s lead grew to a whopping 12 points in the first quarter, but the Wolverines proved why they are one of the better teams in the Big Ten. Without Phelia, Maddie Nolan made a huge advance in the first quarter. The senior scored eight points on two three-pointers and two free throws.
If it weren’t for Nolan’s impressive performance, Michigan would have been in a pretty big hole in the second quarter. However, the Wolverines cut the 12-point deficit in half and entered the second quarter 21-15.
From then on, Leigha Brown began to assert her dominance over the Spartan defense. The senior matched Nolan’s eight points in the first quarter with eight of her own in the second quarter, but the Michigan State offense was still buzzing.
The Wolverines trailed by seven heading into the second half, and the comeback looked set to be a tall order without Phelia or Kampschroeder.
The third quarter proved to be the turning point for Michigan, as Brown and Emily Kiser combined for 17 points, and the duo single-handedly defeated the Spartans in the third quarter. Michigan swept the seven-point halftime deficit and clung to a one-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Maddie Nolan hadn’t scored since the start of the second quarter, but the senior guard came back to life in the fourth and drilled two huge three-pointers. Her shooting, along with Brown’s sloppy efforts, helped Michigan to an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Nolan finished the game with a career-high 22 points at 5-8 from outside the arc and 7-8 from the free throw line.
Brown held on to the charity streak along the stretch and her incredible performance was enough to give Michigan the win.
The fifth-year senior finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the thrilling win. She shot 12–13 from the free throw line, and she fell just two points short of tying her Michigan career-high.
Michigan is now enjoying an extended vacation. There is no midweek game for Kim Barnes Arico’s team, which could give Phelia and others a chance to heal before the Wolverines host Nebraska on Sunday, Feb. 12.
It will be another chance for Brown to showcase her talent as it will be her last guaranteed match against her former team. Sure, the two teams could meet in March in the Big Ten Tournament, but that’s certainly not a given. The battle between the Wolverines and Cornhuskers ends at 1pm and will air on B1G+.
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