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Originally published Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 7:47 PM

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Villanova ousted by Michigan in NCAA tourney

After Laura Sweeney scored the first seven points of the game for Villanova, Michigan made a point to go right at her and draw fouls.

AP Sports Writer

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STANFORD, Calif. —

After Laura Sweeney scored the first seven points of the game for Villanova, Michigan made a point to go right at her and draw fouls.

That strategy sure worked well to limit the Wildcats' leading scorer.

Sweeney finished with 16 points, three rebounds and four fouls in 16 minutes, and her time on the bench certainly played a big factor in ninth-seeded Villanova's 60-52 loss to No. 8 seed Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament Sunday night.

"We had a tough time running our offense," Sweeney said. "We were nervous and excited and I felt like we were rushing it. Rebounding has been part of our problem all year long."

Kate Thompson hit a key 3-pointer down the stretch and another late jumper to finish with 17 points, and the eighth-seeded Wolverines overcame a cold-shooting first half to advance.

Jenny Ryan added 13 points, three assists and two steals as Michigan's starting lineup featuring four seniors extended their season by shooting 61.9 percent in the second half.

Michigan (22-10) will face top-seeded Stanford (32-2), a 72-56 winner over Tulsa in Sunday's first game, on the Cardinal's home floor at Maples Pavilion on Tuesday night for a spot in the Spokane Regional semifinals next weekend.

Michigan's second-leading scorer Rachel Sheffer had 16 points and matched her career high with 13 rebounds for her sixth straight game scoring in double figures. She took charge in the paint on a night Sweeney barely had a chance to do just that.

Devon Kane added 12 for Villanova (21-11).

In this evenly played matchup with five ties and five lead changes. Neither team led by more than nine points until Michigan briefly built a late 10-point advantage.

"I thought it was a great game," Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. "I was a little concerned coming in. This group had not played in an NCAA game and I was concerned about how they would react. I thought we were able to generate enough 3s, we just didn't make enough of them to win."

Villanova inbounded the ball in front of its bench and near its own basket with 4:24 to play and trailing 47-43, but Sheffer batted down a pass into the post and the Wolverines gained possession. Thompson knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the arc moments later, one of the three total she made.

"When you get the lead it's so much different," Perretta said. "It's difficult to play from behind in a game because if you make one error, which we did, then they can go up three or four points and the pressure comes back to you."

Nya Jordan added 12 points and nine rebounds to help Michigan to a 39-28 rebounding advantage. She also had three assists and one of five steals by the Wolverines, who are playing in back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time since 2000-01.

The No. 8 seed also matches the highest ever for the program.

While Michigan made 13 of its 21 second-half shots to finish at 47.8 percent, Villanova shot just 33.9 percent with a 6-for-26 showing from 3-point range.

The Wildcats, who had won three straight before losing to Syracuse in the Big East tournament, also reached the free throw line only six times compared to Michigan's 11-for-13 performance.

This marked the first meeting between the programs, but not so for the coaches on either bench.

Barnes Arico is in her first season coaching at Michigan against a familiar face in mentor and 35th-year Villanova coach Perretta - and he actually recommended her for the new job in Ann Arbor.

Kim Barnes Arico spent the past 10 seasons at St. John's and faced Perretta in the Big East, going 5-6 against his teams.

She has reached five NCAA tournaments and four in a row, and her teams have always won at least one game. The Wolverines kept that impressive streak going.

Last season, St. John's lost to Duke in the Fresno Regional semifinal.

Michigan built a 26-17 lead on Thompson's jumper with 3:54 remaining in the first to cap an 8-0 spurt featuring a pair of 3s by Ryan, but didn't score again while going 0 for 5 with two turnovers. The Wildcats scored seven unanswered points, including the final four from Kane, to pull within 26-24 at the break.

Perretta realizes this run does plenty for his program, even heading back across the country sooner than everybody would like.

"I'm just so thrilled for the seniors. I'm grateful for what they've done," he said. "They played unselfishly and they've played hard. Even though we lose the game I'm very happy."

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