Share “Defense fails Michigan in 88-67 loss to...”

Defense fails Michigan in 88-67 loss to Oklahoma

Associated Press Modified: March 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm •  Published: March 18, 2012

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Michigan finally ended a decade-long drought and made it into the NCAA women's tournament on the strength of the Big Ten's best defense.

Then 5-foot-7 Aaryn Ellenberg and Oklahoma tore it all apart to send the Wolverines right back home.

Ellenberg scored 21 of her 28 points in the second half, Morgan Hook added 13 points and Oklahoma defeated Michigan 88-67 Sunday night to move on in the Fresno Regional.

The Sooners' output amounted to 10 more points than anyone else had scored on Michigan (20-13) all season long.

"It's the Big Dance. Everyone's going to come out and be competitive and want to win," said Carmen Reynolds, who led the Wolverines with 20 points.

"They were hitting shots, they were feeling it. We didn't stop them."

Michigan, which hadn't made the tournament since 2001 and squeaked in as one of the last three teams in the bracket, had been allowing only 58 points and forcing 17 turnovers per game.

The Sooners surpassed the 58-point mark with more than 13 minutes remaining and matched their season low with eight turnovers. They had been averaging 17 giveaways per game and had at least 20 in 10 games this season.

Instead, it was the Wolverines who turned it over 11 times in the first half to negate a 56-percent shooting performance as they fell behind 48-36.

"We were shooting the same percentage they were in the first half and we had (11) turnovers and they were unforced," Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. "It wasn't like they were stealing the ball from us, picking our pocket. We just made some bad passes.

"We don't turn the ball over (11) times in the first half and it changes the dynamics of that game."

Playing on their home court, the sixth-seeded Sooners (21-12) took control with an early 14-4 run and never trailed. Oklahoma built a 12-point lead in the first 8 minutes and had the same cushion at halftime before holding the Wolverines to one basket over the first 5½ minutes.

Ellenberg, who had been limited to 7 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, then made up for lost time by scoring 13 of Oklahoma's first 14 points in the second half. Her jumper off an inbounds pass extended the Sooners' lead to 57-38 with 14:33 remaining.

Michigan never got any closer than eight after that. The Sooners advanced to play No. 3 seed St. John's on Tuesday night.

"I sat a lot of the first half, so I saw how much fun they were having. I really wanted to be part of the action. That was pretty much my main goal," Ellenberg said.

Continue reading this story on the...