By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - After clinching at least a share of a 15th consecutive Horizon League regular season title in a win over Valparaiso on Saturday, the Green Bay women's basketball team (22-2, 12-0 HL) will look to clinch the championship outright with a road battle at Detroit (14-10, 7-5 HL) on Thursday night at 6 p.m CST. The game pits the top two home teams in the Horizon League, with both the Phoenix and Titans boasting undefeated marks on their respective home courts.
The Phoenix extended its winning streak to 17 games, tied for the fifth-longest regular season winning streak in program history, with an 80-38 victory over Valparaiso in the PinkZone game on Saturday. All 11 players saw time on the court and scored, including two new career highs. Redshirt sophomore Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) led the way with a career-high 22 points on 8-13 shooting, including a 4-8 mark from long range. Before Saturday's game, Lukan hadn't made a three since the last matchup with Valparaiso on Jan. 26 and had just four total three's for the season. In addition to her high-percentage shooting, Lukan single-handedly outscored Valparaiso 16-13 in the first half.
SCOUTING DETROIT: Detroit is the only other Horizon League team with a perfect home record, boasting a 9-0 mark this season and a 15-0 overall streak with six wins from last season added on. The Titans have dropped two straight after getting swept out of the Windy City with losses at Loyola and at UIC. Before that trip, Detroit had won seven of its previous eight contests.
STOPPING SHAREETA, ROUND TWO: Green Bay will look to lock down post threat Shareeta Brown for the second time this season in Thursday's matchup. Brown leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage with a 57.2 mark and is second in the conference in scoring at 21.3 points per game. In the first meeting this season, Brown entered the contest as the second-leading scorer in the nation at 26.0 points per game, but the Phoenix held her to just eight points on 2-4 shooting in 30 minutes of action.
DOUBLED UP: Green Bay opened Horizon League play on Jan. 8 in dominating fashion in the win over Detroit at the Kress Center. In the 62-31 outing, the Phoenix defense was paced by senior Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) who had a career-high seven steals. The Titans' 31 points is the lowest total by an opponent this season and also ranks in the top five for lowest opponent scoring totals against Green Bay in the last 30 years.
ON A ROLL IN THE POLLS: Green Bay moved up four spots in this week's AP Top 25 poll, coming in at No. 21 after spending last week at No. 25. The Phoenix also entered the USA Today Coaches Poll this week with a No. 23 ranking after serving as the top vote-receiving team in last week's edition. The team also stayed at No. 2 with two first-place votes in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 Poll. Detroit is also featured in that poll, receiving one vote.
TOURNAMENT TALK: Regardless of the rest of the season's outcome, with Saturday's win over Valparaiso Green Bay guaranteed it will host the 2013 Horizon League Tournament. In its five-year history, the Kress Center has hosted every conference tournament.
RANGER DANGER: Redshirt junior Breannah Ranger continued to make her case for Sixth Player of the Year with her second double-double of the season and of her career against Valparaiso. In the win over the Crusaders, Ranger put up 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, just one shy of her career-high 11 boards set earlier this season. In addition to averaging 7.7 points and a tied team-high 4.9 rebounds per game, Ranger is second in the Horizon League with a 55.0 field goal percentage.
NOTABLE CONNECTIONS: Detroit head coach Autumn Rademacher is very familiar with Green Bay, having played at Detroit against the Phoenix from 1993-97. During her senior season, she was a part of the Detroit team that upset Green Bay in the 1997 MCC Tournament Championship game to advance to the NCAA Tournament. After seven seasons at Western Michigan, Rademacher was an assistant coach on the Green Bay bench from 2003-04 until 2007-08 before accepting her current position in the Motor City.
FOLLOW IT LIVE: Fans can listen live as Bruce VandenPlas will have the call on The Fan 107.5 FM, 1400 AM and TheFan1075.com. Live stats and live video on the Horizon League Network will also be available. Be sure to follow @GBPhoenixWBB and @JustinGrones on Twitter for updates throughout the game.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: Green Bay will round out the weekend with a road trip to Chicago to battle UIC on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Phoenix had a record day against the Flames on Feb. 2 with a 99-53 win at home, breaking the program record for assists in a game with 34 and scoring the sixth-most points in a single game in program history.
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