Ann Arbor – No. 22 Michigan came into its Big Ten battle with All-American Kelsey Mitchell and No. 10 Ohio State Sunday afternoon at the Crisler Center looking for a signature win.
The Wolverines had a chance. They led 64-62 and had the ball with 25 seconds left in regulation, but fell 78-71 in overtime before an enthusiastic crowd of 8,313.
It was the third time this season the Wolverines faced a top-10 team. They have lost all three and now are 0-4 against ranked opponents.
No doubt, the Wolverines (13-4, 2-2) don’t want to be ranked in the top-25 near the end of the season only to stumble like a year ago, when they missed the NCAA tournament and had to settle for a WNIT championship.
Ohio State’s win overshadowed an outstanding performance from Michigan 6-foot-5 junior center Hallie Thome, who had 27 points and eight rebounds, making 12-of-20 shots.
Mitchell, the standout senior guard, was the difference in OT, scoring nine of her game-high 37, including a 3-pointer to open the five-minute extra quarter.
Former Detroit Country Day standout Asia Doss put on a strong defensive effort against Michigan senior guard Katelynn Flaherty, making her earn her 22 points on 7-of-22 shooting, including 2-of-9 on 3-pointers.
Flaherty, who had eight assists, missed a driving layup with Michigan holding a 64-62 lead with nearly 20 seconds left, then misfired on an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired in regulation with the teams tied at 64.
“It was a great basketball game, great environment, great crowd, just an unbelievable game against two of the top teams in the country, really super bummed that we came out on the short side of it,” said Kim Barnes Arico, Michigan’s all-time winningest head coach. “We had every opportunity down the stretch to win that game, so we will get back at it and figure out what we could do better and try and put ourselves in position to be successful moving forward.”
The fourth quarter alone had nine lead changes, but OSU coach Kevin McGuff made an adjustment to keep the ball out of Thome’s hands during the final three minutes of regulation.
“We made an adjustment, started fronting her a little bit instead of playing behind her, and that was a little more effective,” McGuff said.
Still, Barnes Arico felt Thome could have made a play when the Wolverines had the ball in front of their own bench with 12 seconds left in regulation.
“I thought Hallie was incredible,” said Barnes Arico. “I think one of her advantages was they left her in a 1-on-1. We said we’re going to keep going to you and you keep being aggressive, and she was just tremendous.
“I think the last possession (of regulation) we had the ball in her hands (nearly 20 feet from the basket) for a second and I think we all started to look for Katelynn (Flaherty) and tried to have Katelynn try to make a play where I think any of our kids at that moment could have taken over, and Hallie had all game.”
Flaherty thought she was fouled on her drive to the basket late in regulation and also on her 3-point attempt at the buzzer, but didn’t get a call on either play.
Mitchell, the nation’s second-leading scorer who averaged 30.8 points in five games against ranked opponents this season, scored 20 during the fourth quarter and OT, making 7-of-9 shots.
“She’s an unbelievable player,” said McGuff of Mitchell. “I thought Michigan did a good job on her throughout the game, but she really found her rhythm late and carried us.”
Junior guard Sierra Calhoun scored 17 for the Buckeyes (15-2, 4-0), making 4-of-8 3-pointers.
“It’s tough to come out on that end, but I think we’re right there,” said Flaherty of playing with the Buckeyes. “We just have to focus on the next two games and then we have another shot at them.”
Michigan plays at Ohio State on Jan. 16.