Michigan falls in exhibition finale, goes 1-2 in Spain

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Isaiah Livers

The Wolverines are heading home from Spain on a sour note.

Michigan wrapped up its three-game exhibition slate with an 85-79 loss to Liga ACB club Joventut Badalona — arguably its toughest test of the trip — Saturday at Pavello Esportiu Municipal in Sant Julia de Vilatorta.

Michigan went 1-2 on its foreign tour, with an 82-72 win over the Madrid Generals, a team comprised of local professional free agents, and an 81-73 loss to Serbian pro team KK Mega Bemax earlier this week.

The overseas finale was evenly matched throughout the first half. The second half was a different story, though, as Joventut Badalona, which plays in Spain’s top professional basketball division, began to distance itself and create separation.

Michigan did its best to keep pace, using a dunk from redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews and two baskets from freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis to pull within 52-49 in the third quarter. But Joventut Badalona seemingly had a well-executed counter every time the Wolverines drew close and took a 61-54 advantage after three.

The game continued to get away from Michigan as Joventut Badalona relentlessly attacked the rim and pushed its lead to double digits, 75-63, in the fourth. Michigan managed to muster a late run and cut it to five on a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Isaiah Livers, but it proved to be too little too late.

Livers and Brazdeikis — who had a strong week — finished with 15 points apiece to lead Michigan. Matthews scored 14 — all in the second half — while redshirt sophomore center Austin Davis added 12 points, and sophomore guard Jordan Poole and junior center Jon Teske each had seven points.

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The Wolverines got off to a promising start in the contest as they took advantage of numerous second-chance opportunities. Davis, in particular, was a menace on the glass and scored nine points on four baskets, three coming on offensive putbacks, as Michigan and Joventut Badalona ended the first quarter deadlocked at 21.

Joventut Badalona scored the first five points of the second quarter to pull ahead, but Michigan continued to stay close — even after going roughly three minutes without a basket. Poole ended the drought with a layup and sophomore guard Eli Brooks knocked down a jumper to pull Michigan within 35-34 late in the second.

The teams appeared to be headed into the half tied once again after Livers buried a corner 3-pointer — only to have a buzzer-beater give Joventut Badalona a 40-37 edge at the break and a lead it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

Despite the defeats, Michigan will travel back to Ann Arbor on Sunday with a better understanding of what it'll need to work on when preseason practices begin in late September.