Takeaways from Michigan women’s basketball’s loss to LSU in NCAA Tournament

Mar 20, 2023 - 1:51 AM
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The 6-seeded Michigan Wolverines will not be playing in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, falling to 3-seeded LSU in Baton Rouge, 66-42.

The Wolverines got dominated in the paint, got themselves into a double-digit hole fairly early on and couldn’t dig out. Sophomore guard Laila Phelia led the Wolverines with 20 points, but U-M couldn’t match LSU’s energy on the boards and couldn’t create many quality shots before this one turned into a blowout.

Here are some takeaways from the loss.

Not a great start offensively

You need to get off to a hot start to pull of upsets in the tournament, and the Wolverines did not do that.

They only made three of their first 12 shots and quickly were down 14 points thanks to an 11-0 run LSU went on towards the start of the second quarter.

The Wolverines never were able to make a run of their own in the first, as the Tigers led after 20 minutes of play, 30-15. In that half, Michigan shot 7-of-21 from the field and 1-of-5 from deep. They did go on a 5-0 to start the second half and cut the lead to 10, but that was as close as the game got.

You can’t expect to win games — especially tournament games — when you start out that poorly.

Angel Reese was a problem

The Wolverines have been pretty good on the boards and in the paint all season, largely thanks to the duo of Emily Kiser and Cameron Williams. But U-M hasn’t faced as many centers as dominant as LSU’s Angel Reese, who dominated around the rim and used great post position to get easy shots.

She had 13 points and 14 rebounds in the first half alone. The Wolverines played better defense on her and she missed a few lay-ups in the second half, but she still finished with with 25 and 24. Reese was incredibly dominant on defense as well, recording 6 blocks.

Michigan never really had an consistent answer for her. That was part of a reason it couldn’t really make a run to get back into this one; you have to get stops to make comebacks, and the Wolverines simply didn’t do that.

The Wolverines missed a lot of jumpers and got killed on the boards

Michigan went on way too many stretches where it couldn’t make shots, and it shot the ball poorly all game long.

Props to the Tigers; they had an excellent game plan and did a great job pressuring Leigha Brown, Michigan’s leading scorer, was held to just three points, and the Tigers made it really hard for Michigan to get open shots. Even when the Wolverines did get open shots, they couldn’t capitalize.

The Wolverines shot 34.8% overall and 30.8% from three. From a percentage standpoint, they didn’t shoot that much worse than the Tigers did (35.3% from the field & 31.6% from three), but LSU was too dominant in the paint for that to matter. They scored the majority of their points there, and grabbed a whopping 21 offensive rebounds.

As we’ve learned from watching the men’s team this season, you can’t expect to win many games giving up a lot of offensive rebounds.

What’s next

The season is over for the Wolverines. They were ranked in the top 20 in the AP Poll most of the year and finished the year with a 23-10 record overall and an 11-7 record in conference.

You can now consider Kim Barnes Arico’s team a mainstay in the tournament; they’ve made it every season since 2018, making it to the Round of 32 all five times.

This roster could look a lot different next season, with a lot of the playing rotation — including Brown, Emily Kiser and Maddie Nolan — being seniors or older. As the roster changes, we’ll be sure to keep Michigan fans updated here at Maize n Brew.

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