By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
CHICAGO, Ill. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay women's basketball team had no problem playing with fire to wrap up its weekend roadswing, picking up a 67-36 win at UIC on Thursday night. The win over the Flames at a UIC Pavilion featuring dozens of Phoenix fans was the 19th straight this season and improves Green Bay to 24-2 overall and 14-0 in Horizon League contests. With the loss, UIC dropped to 9-18 and 5-9 in conference games.
"Our offense came in spurts tonight, but our defense was great all night. To come to an opponent's home floor and only allow 36 points is very impressive no matter where you go," head coach Kevin Borseth said. "UIC is a very quick and athletic team, but our kids did a great job of matching that quickness tonight."
Green Bay opened the game on a 15-0 run with the help of triples from Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.), Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) and Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.). UIC missed its first 10 shots of the game before reigning Horizon League Co-Player of the Week Katie Hannemann hit a layup more than seven minutes in. The Phoenix wasted no time responding, as Eichler found Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) for two on the next possession.
A rebound and layup from Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) with 7:02 remaining gave Green Bay a 25-10 advantage and sparked a 7-0 run. Bauer finished with 11 first-half points on 4-5 shooting, with perfect marks from downtown and at the charity stripe.
UIC closed the gap to 33-16 with 2:39 left in the opening frame, but from there the Phoenix used a 9-0 run with a Bauer three and layups from Eichler, Ranger and Lukan to head into the locker room with a 42-16 lead.
The Flames struck first in the second half on a Hannemann layup, cutting the lead to 42-18. Another three from Lukan extended the lead to 48-19, but after that the Phoenix was held scoreless for nearly four and a half minutes.
Eichler completed a three-point play to push the lead to 51-19 and break the scoring drought with 12:58 remaining, but with a 55-23 lead at the 10:24 mark, UIC scored four unanswered points over the next three and a half minutes to cut the lead to 55-27.
"Sarah Eichler has been so great these past few games-her shots are falling and she continues to be our toughness on both ends of the court," Borseth said. "She can hit the three, and her accuracy this year has been better than ever."
The Phoenix responded with a run of its own on a Jenny Gilbertson (Wabasha, Minn.) layup and the foul. Her three-point play started a 7-2 run over the next four minutes, granting the visitors a 64-29 lead with just over three minutes to go.
UIC was able to eclipse 30 points late in the game, but Green Bay's lockdown defense was able to secure the 31-point victory.
The Phoenix shot 46.2 percent from the field while holding the Flames to only 25.5 percent overall and just 1-12 from long range. Both teams committed 18 turnovers, while the Phoenix had 22 assists on 24 field goals-the second time this season the team had just two field goals without assists against UIC. In the first meeting this season, Green Bay used a program-record 34 assists on 36 field goals en route to a 99-53 victory.
Eichler led the way with 16 points on 6-8 shooting while Bauer had 13. Ritchie added 10 points and six assists, and Ranger put up eight points and nine rebounds. Lukan also added eight points, as well as four rebounds and four assists.
UIC was led by Hannemann and Megan Wallace, who each had eight points. Hannemann also had a team-high eight rebounds.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: Green Bay will play its regular season home finale on Thursday as red-hot Loyola visits the Kress Center. Green Bay escaped the Windy City with a 65-62 win over the Ramblers on Feb. 7, exactly one month prior to the upcoming meeting. The final regular season game will feature a trip to battle rival Milwaukee next Saturday, March 9.
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