No. 3 Michigan held off No. 10 South Dakota for a 52-49 Sweet 16 victory, propelling the Wolverines to the program’s first Elite Eight.
Michigan will face No. 1 seed Louisville, which is making its fourth straight Elite Eight appearance, on Monday at Instrust Bank Arena. Michigan senior Naz Hillmon scored 17 points with 10 rebounds.
Freshman Laila Phelia scored the go-ahead layup in the final minute, finishing with 14 points. Leigha Brown added 10 points for Michigan.
South Dakota, with a crowd full of fans behind it, was led by Hannah Sjerven’s 17 points and eight rebounds.
What does this mean for Michigan’s program?
Shannon Ryan, women’s basketball managing editor: Advancing to the Elite Eight is validating in many ways for the Wolverines. In coach Kim Barnes Arico’s 10 seasons, they’ve been on a steady climb, going from WNIT appearances to a WNIT championship to NCAA berths to last season’s Sweet 16 to finally an Elite Eight.
The Wolverines look closer and closer to becoming Big Ten champs too, and despite not having the banner, they’ve outlasted the five other conference teams in the NCAA Tournament.
The historic victory further solidifies Hillmon’s stardom in Ann Arbor. Along with Arico Barnes, she’s helped take Michigan to new heights. Despite South Dakota’s attempts to stifle her inside game, Hillmon finished with her 17th double-double of the season, including recording one in every game of the NCAA Tournament.
What problems does Louisville pose?
Ryan: Louisville has a variety of options, and it plays a tough brand of defense. But as members of the scrappy and physical Big Ten, Michigan won’t be surprised. But the Cardinals have the third-best defense of teams remaining in the tournament, holding opponents to 55 points per game this season and not allowing any tournament opponent to score even 65 points.
The Wolverines similarly are not defensive slouches, having held every tournament opponent to fewer than 50 points. Expect a low-scoring tussle on Monday night for a trip to the Final Four on the line.