ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)Emily Kiser scored a career-high 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead short-handed No. 12 Michigan to a 71-53 win over Rutgers on Thursday night.
On senior night Kiser, a graduate student, was 14-of-17 shooting, draining both of her 3-pointers as well as all four free throws. That helped offset the absence of leading scorers Leigha Brown (18.2) and Laila Phelia (17.0).
Phelia, a sophomore, missed her sixth-straight game with a lower-leg injury while Brown, a senior, missed the game for unspecified reasons. A school statement released before the game said, ”Leigha Brown will not be present or participate in tonight’s game due to an internal issue. There will be no further comment.”
Brown scored a career-high 36 points in Michigan’s last game.
Maddie Nolan scored 15 points with three 3-pointers, seven assists and three steals for the Wolverines (21-7, 11-6 Big Ten), who had lost two straight to ranked teams but clinched the fifth-seed in the league tournament.
Kaylene Smikle scored 14 points to lead Rutgers (11-18, 5-12) and Kai Carter added 13.
Kiser simply wouldn’t let the Wolverines, who received the No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament reveal during the game, lose. She had 14 points in the first quarter when they went up 20-12. Despite being outscored 14-7 in the second quarter – Kiser had four – they led 27-26.
Kiser took over in the third, making all seven of her shots for 14 points, including the first six points of the quarter as Michigan pushed the lead to 12.
Rutgers scored two quick baskets in the fourth to get within eight but the Wolverines had five of their seven 3s in the quarter.
Michigan closes the regular season at Wisconsin on Tuesday while Rutgers is home against No. 25 Illinois on Sunday. The Big Ten Conference tournament starts on Wednesday.
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