Michigan Hoops Comes Up Short in LA

An outstanding offensive effort by the Wolverines went for naught as they came up short at Pauley Pavilion, <strong>losing to the UCLA Bruins 81-79.</strong>

After a disappointing loss Tuesday to Boston University and a late night flight Friday to Los Angeles, many thought that a lopsided loss was in store for the undermanned Michigan Wolverines. They incurred yet another injury prior to Saturday’s contest when Sherrod Harrell suffered a deviated septum. The news wasn’t all bad though. The former walk-on was fitted with a mask and was available to play.

Even with all of the injuries, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker had a formula for staying in the game versus the Bruins. Pound the ball inside. Saturday marked the Wolverines most determined effort of the season in the post. Chris Hunter, Courtney Sims, and Brent Petway combined for 14 of Michigan’s first 21 points, leaving the Maize and Blue down four (25-21) with just over nine minutes left in the half.

Dijon Thompson, who retuned to the Bruin lineup from a one game hiatus with stitches on his, seemed to get into a groove as time elapsed in the period. He added eight points in the latter part of the half and headed into the intermission with a team-high 12. His inside-outside attack helped UCLA build the lead as high as eight points, (36-28 with 5 minutes remaining), but the Wolverines would close the gap.

Dion Harris shook his off his recent offensive woes and help shoot his team back into the game with two huge three pointers. Chris Hunter added a triple of his own at the 1:29 mark that sent the Wolverines into the locker room down 42-40.

Amaker’s bunch came out of the break and went right back to work in the paint. The Wolverines scored nine points in the first four minutes of the second half, all of which came down low. That was good enough to earn them a 49-49 tie. They, however, couldn’t slow the Bruins offensively.

Thompson came out shooting, scoring five quick before nailing a big triple to regain the lead, 52-49 with 16:22 remaining. Michigan freshman Ronald Coleman found his stroke the next time down the court and answered Thompson’s three-pointer with one of his own to knot things back up. Moments later he nailed another triple to give Michigan its first lead of the game, (55-53), with just under 14 minutes left in the game.

Thompson continued his offensive tear on the other end with a dunk to tie things up again. That started a 10-2 run that put the Bruins up 63-57 with 9:50 left to play. Dion Harris ended a three-minute scoring drought with two free throws. That got the Wolverines rolling again. After a short jumper from Petway and another three pointer from Coleman, Michigan regained the lead on a Courtney Sims lay-up. The Maize and Blue outscored the Bruins 9-4 over the next three minutes to take a 75-69 lead with 3:51 left on the clock. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, that offensive outburst proved to be short-lived.

Michigan hit another drought and was outscored 6-0 over the next three minutes, leaving the game all tied up at 75 with under a minute to go. The Wolverines moved back out front thanks to two John Andrews free throws, but as was the case throughout the game, Thompson was right there to answer for his team.

The senior forward came off of a screen at the top of the key and nailed a huge three to give his team a one point lead, (78-77), with 43 seconds left on the clock. A turnover by Michigan the next time down the court forced them to foul the Bruins’ best free throw shooter, Jordan Farmar. He connected on both to give the home team an 80-77 advantage with 22 seconds to go.

Chris Hunter missed a three pointer on Michigan’s ensuing possession, but it was put-back in by Courtney Sims. They fouled Farmar once again, sending him to the line with seven seconds left clock. This time he made only one of two at the charity stripe, putting his team up 81-79.

That gave the Wolverines one last chance to tie or win, but a length of the court drive and shot by Dion Harris fell just short as time ran out. Chris Hunter led the Wolverines with 21 points, but had zero rebounds in 29 minutes of play on the afternoon. Dijon Thompson paced the Bruins with 29 points and 10 rebounds. For more on the game, click the following links (Boxscore, Notes & Quotes)

"I like to think that we were very scrappy and gritty,” Amaker said after the game. “I'm pleased with the effort they gave us this afternoon. Disappointed, obviously, with the outcome, but we will be able to build on it and find some things in the film to see if we can get better, and after the holidays hopefully get back on the winning track.”

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