Wichita, Cannes. ( Associated Press) — Michigan’s first loss of the season was a doozy.
The Wolverines were flown 70-48 in Louisville On 2 December, his second biggest margin of defeat.
Nearly four months later, Michigan has a chance to avenge that loss on a grand stage. The third-seeded Wolverines (25-6) will face the top-seeded Cardinals (28-4) in the women’s Elite Eight on Monday night, with a tour of the Final Four at stake.
Michigan players say a lot has changed since that rough night when Wolverine made 24 turnovers and took 37% of his shots off the field.
“It was early in our season and we were still figuring things out,” Michigan guard Danielle Rauch said. “Playing in Louisville is a really tough job. So we were definitely shocked in that situation. But I think we have grown a lot since then and this whole season we have had to go through a lot of different things to get him ready to play again.”
Naz Hillmon of Michigan was ranked 12 points – nine points below her current average. The All-American first team said it was the first time it saw such intense defensive pressure.
Hillmon said, “We’ve really figured out, you know, if people are doubling and tripling me, how to put people at their best to contribute to our team and sometimes to us.” The focus should be on slowing down the game.”
Louisville has moved on, but knows Monday won’t be easy.
“I would say we can’t keep that game in mind,” said Louisville guard Hallie Van Lith. “We can look at it for things that have worked well for us, but this is March. Everybody’s going to do their best, everybody’s going to fight.”
The Cardinals also have something to prove, having reached the Final Four three times and the national title game twice but never the championship.
“As a senior, obviously, going to the Final Four will be everything,” said Louisville guard Kiana Smith. “I would say our goal is to win it all. We don’t want to sell ourselves short. We want to do something that Louisville has never done before and that is to win a national championship, but we’re not looking too far ahead.” We are taking it one game at a time and enjoying all the little moments together.”
Hillmon is a dynamic internal presence that averages 21.2 points per game on 59% shooting for the season. In three NCAA Tournament games, those numbers jumped to 22.7 points on 69% shooting, despite the extra defensive focus.
Michigan coach Kim Barnes Erico said, “We talk about All-Americans and Players of the Year, and Naz Hillmon is still playing, and she’s playing her best basketball right now and she’s doing things like that.” Which are completely different from the charts.” “I guess she doesn’t want it to end, and she knows at any moment that it can happen. … The almost bigger the game, the more important the game, the more she is able to turn it around.” . It’s a really special thing.”
Emily Engstler is a key part of the disruptive defense of Louisville coach Jeff Walz. Angstler led the ACC with 2.59 steals per game and made the league’s all-defense team.
“I think he’s a difference maker,” said Barnes Erico. “You have the 6-2 (listed at 6-1) athlete that she is and can move so well, stop shots so well, play and maybe one to five in any position. I think he (Walz) gives him the freedom to be able to walk around and doubly so, to be able to be an insect, to be able to walk on just about anyone.
Engstler also averages 12.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest.
Michigan guard Layla Falia had a last-minute go-ahead lay-up against South Dakota On Saturday – Barnes responds to requests from Erico and teammates that she become more aggressive.
“So once I knew the clock was running down, at that point, I knew I needed to attack the basket,” Felia said of the shot that put Michigan ahead of two. “And I felt like my teammates gave me a lot of confidence right before I walked in, and they told me, now’s not the time to hesitate.”
Louisville forward Olivia Cochran was injured in her left eye in Saturday’s game against Tennessee. A day later, she was sitting on the podium with a black eye that was swollen and mostly closed. She said she would wear a mask against Michigan.
“I’m doing fine,” Cochran said. “The game was quite physical, but it’s just sports.”
Cochran averages 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game when shooting 51% from the field.
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Van Lith has been exceptional lately. He averaged 21.3 points per game in three games during the NCAA Tournament—seven points above his overall season scoring average. He had 23 points and six assists against Tennessee.,
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