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Posted on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 5:31 a.m.

Michigan women head from 'signature win' over Purdue to Saturday matchup with Michigan State

By Kyle Austin

Michigan senior forward Kate Thompson has already enjoyed a breakout season. Thompson went from being a reserve averaging eight points per game last season for the Wolverines’ women's basketball team's leading scorer at more than 15 per game.

But heading into last Sunday's matchup at No. 13 Purdue, Thompson's coach thought she needed a bit of encouragement.

kate-thompson.JPG

Michigan senior Kate Thompson lines up for a shot against Eastern Michigan earlier in the season.

Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com file photo

“I think when you’re a shooter like she is, so much is based on your confidence and making a couple of shots early,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “And she just needed to know that hey, you’re our go-to person, you have the green light, we’re running stuff for you.”

The result: a 67-56 win, paced by six three-pointers and 22 points from Thompson.

Barnes Arico called Sunday a “signature win” -- it marked Michigan’s first win at Purdue since 1998 -- and one that kept Michigan (18-7) in the Big Ten hunt and strengthened the Wolverines’ already strong NCAA Tournament resume.

“It’s definitely a quality win, it’s a signature win,” Barnes Arico said. “Anytime you can beat a ranked opponent on their home court I just think speaks volumes of your team.”

And it’s as good a way as any to start Michigan State week, where another years-long losing streak comes into play.

The Wolverines have lost 12 straight to the Spartans, including a 61-46 matchup Feb. 4 in East Lansing, heading into Saturday’s Crisler Center matchup (Noon, Big Ten Network).

But while Michigan went into the first matchup having lost three of four, it comes into Saturday coming off its best win of the season.

“It’s always the next game that’s our most important game,” Thompson said. “So regardless of the rivalry, yeah we’ve had a losing streak, but this is a totally different year, a totally different game. So we just need to prepare for them the same way we would prepare for any other team.”

Barnes Arico said the first matchup was marked by senior guard Jenny Ryan hurting her ankle. Though she returned to the game, a player Barnes Arico calls “the heart and soul of the team,” wasn’t the same.

“Our team was in a state of shock, I think, when she went down, and I don’t think that we fully recovered from that,” Barnes Arico said.

But Michigan State’s defense also gave Michigan trouble, as did the Spartans’ physical play. The Spartans managed to hold Thompson to 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting.

This time around, Barnes Arico said there’s been an emphasis on setting screens and working to get Thompson better looks for shots as she continues to be Michigan's go-to shooter.

“Knowing that my coach has confidence in me is huge for me being out on the floor playing,” Thompson said.

But Barnes Arico is looking for more than just 3-pointers, as Michigan looks to end its losing streak to Michigan State and stay in the Big Ten race.

“With that comes a certain amount of responsibility and accountability,” Barnes Arico said. “So that she just needed to step up and take more of a vocal role, more of a leadership role heading into our final stretch.”

Kyle Austin covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at kyleaustin@annarbor.com or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.

Comments

Heidi Koester

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

Thanks for the article. This team plays with real heart and competes every single minute out there. And, they win a lot of games! Would love it if they could beat Michigan State tomorrow!

Kyle Austin

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

My pleasure. I haven't been able to watch this team yet so I'm excited to see them out there tomorrow.

Danai

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

I'll be there tomorrow @ noon! Go Blue!