Ann Arbor, Michigan– The 25th ranked Michigan Wolverines women’s basketball team defeated the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, 78-69, Wednesday night in a thrilling Thanksgiving Eve battle. The Golden Grizzlies, despite being the underdogs, were able to make the fans nervous for most of the game, leading 15-13 after one quarter, and then trailing 51-49 after three quarters. Every time the Wolverines made a run to increase their lead, the Golden Grizzlies managed to close the gap, until the Wolverines made a 17-11 run in the final 6:11 of the game.
“I think every time we were able to get a lead, they were able to fight back and they’re an excellent team, they play very hard,” Michigan junior center Hallie Thome said.
Michigan’s senior guard, Katelynn Flaherty, who recently became the all-time leading scorer in program history, spent much of the night with in a duel with Oakland’s senior guard, Taylor Gleason, who’s actually no stranger to the Big Ten; having started her college career at Illinois before transferring to Oakland. Gleason was able to help keep Flaherty to 14 points in the first three quarters, though Flaherty then scored 12 in the fourth, including eight in the final 7:04.
“I thought we did a really good job of guarding her,” Oakland head coach Jeff Tungate said. “She scored 26 points, but we forced her into eight turnovers, which isn’t normal for her. I think she was three for seven from the three and eight for 17 from the floor with eight turnovers. We’ll take that any day; so I was really proud of how they played. I thought Gleason very well, and again, a lot of things to build on from this.”
With the Golden Grizzlies focus on Flaherty, Thome emerged as the difference maker for the Wolverines with her inside presence. Thome led all scores with 29 points, which will certainly boost her season average, 12.3 before the game. Thome was very efficient making 10 of her 14 field goal attempts and nine of her 12 free throws.
“We really have been working on getting Hallie Thome touches in the post and I thought tonight, we were able to take advantage of that and that was great for us to see she had a tremendous night for us,” Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico said.
Freshman guard Deja Church provided 11 rebounds for the Wolverines.
Senior guard Sha’Keya Graves led the Golden Grizzlies with 19 points, while senior guard Cierra Bond added 14. Gleason scored 12 points and led Oakland with four steals, as many as the entire Michigan team had.
The Wolverines will now travel to face Ohio on Saturday while the Golden Grizzlies are off for until they face Canisius on the road, November 29th.