The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 29 of 67

30 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2021 BY CLAYTON SAYFIE M ichigan women's basket- ball's 2020-21 campaign was a season to remember. It was a campaign of firsts for the Wolverines, who earned their highest NCAA Tournament seed (six) of all time, made their first Sweet 16 in program history, and had their first All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year in junior Naz Hillmon. The Maize and Blue got off to their best start ever, winning their first 10 games of the year, with that stretch including a 10-point triumph at rival Notre Dame and a 21-point victory over then-No. 15 Northwestern. Overall, they posted a 16-6 re- cord and 9-4 mark in Big Ten play, finishing fourth in the league and earning a double-bye in the confer- ence tournament, where they lost to Northwestern in the quarterfinals. U-M also won its lone meeting with in-state foe Michigan State and split the two-game series with Ohio State. Then came the NCAA Tourna- ment, which was held in San Anto- nio, Texas. U-M topped No. 11 seed Florida Gulf Coast 87-66 in the first round, before taking down No. 3 seed Tennessee — the winningest program in the history of the sport — 70-55, putting the Wolverines into the second weekend of The Big Dance. U-M even made its deepest run ever without its starting point guard, ju- nior Amy Dilk, who missed the event due to medical reasons. Ultimately, U-M's run came to an end March 27 against No. 2 seed Bay- lor — the defending national cham- pions — with the Wolverines putting together a valiant effort before falling 78-75 in overtime. While it was a devastating loss, head coach Kim Barnes Arico was proud of her group for its relentless effort that afternoon and the entire year. "It's going to be a tough one to get over," she said following the Baylor setback. "It's going to take a long time. They're winners. "Their character … even [Baylor head coach Kim] Mulkey came up to me after and said, 'I never saw a team that played that hard, that played for each other, with fight, never quit.'" U-M was led by Hillmon, who was dominant in her third year, earning the program's first-ever All-America honors from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Associated Press (second team). The Cleveland native averaged 25.1 points and 11.3 rebounds in 32.9 minutes per game over the regular season. She led the conference in re- bounding, double-doubles (12), of- fensive rebounds (4.9 per contest) and free throw attempts (148). Her 50 points in a loss to Ohio State were also the most scored in U-M history. The Wolverines upended Tennessee, the winningest program in the history of the sport, to reach their first-ever Sweet 16, where they fell to second-seeded Baylor in overtime. PHOTO BY BEN SOLOMON/COURTESY NCAA PHOTOS A SWEET SEASON Michigan Women's Basketball Reached The Sweet 16 For The First Time In Program History

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