The cream of the crop of the Big Ten was on full display on Monday when the two highest ranked teams in the conference (No. 6 Michigan and No. 5 Indiana) faced off at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Wolverines came out victorious, defeating the Hoosiers 65-50. Both teams got standout performances from key players. Naz Hillmon scored 21 points and her teammate Emily Kiser grabbed 16 boards for Michigan. Meanwhile Nicole Cardaño-Hillary scored 16 points and got eight steals for the Hoosiers.
The Wolverines continue their top form, winning their seventh in a row. They are now No. 1 in the Big Ten (10-1), 19-2 overall and will assuredly move up in the rankings after beating a Top 5 opponent for the first time at home in program history.
Monday's victory was all about Michigan forwards. Every time the Wolverines needed a bucket, Hillmon answered the call. She was great at setting screens and spacing the floor, setting up easy opportunities for the Wolverine guards. Kiser helped the Wolverines win the rebounding battle 52-20. As Pat Riley once famously said, "No rebounds, no rings." The Wolverines’ performance on Monday seems to back up that hypothesis.
Just not our night.— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) February 1, 2022
We'll regroup and see you in Bloomington on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/6YSZBDjSLh
Despite never having a lead in the game, the Hoosiers hung around until late in the third when Michigan finally pulled away for good. While Michigan relied on its forwards, Indiana was led by the guard trio of Grace Berger, Ali Patberg, and Cardaño-Hillary. Combined, they accounted for 39 of the team's 50 points and all eight assists. Unfortunately for them, it wasn't enough as the Hoosiers struggled on the glass and when it came to slowing down the Michigan offense. With 2:17 left in the third, Indiana was down 42-36. Michigan then went on a 10-0 run during a 3:30 span. Cardaño-Hillary kept the Hoosiers in the game with her running layups and timely 3-pointers, but the deficit never got to less than eight after the Michigan run.
Indiana (14-3, 6-1 Big Ten) lost to a great team and will still be regarded as a top team even after this game. lt will have a chance to bounce back on Thursday when it plays the Minnesota Golden Gophers at home. Michigan will also be playing on Thursday, but will be on the road facing off against the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Wolverines will be looking to make it eight in a row and make a claim to be a Top 3 team in the country.