By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The 2012-13 regular season will come to a close on Saturday as the No. 20/20 Green Bay women's basketball team (25-2, 15-0 HL) will travel south to battle in-state rival Milwaukee (9-18, 5-10 HL) at 2 p.m. The Phoenix will look to win its 21st straight game and 17th consecutive contest in the series with the Panthers.
The winning streak hit 20 games on Thursday as Green Bay used runs of 11-0 in the first half and 17-1 in the second half to put the game away in a 63-37 victory over Loyola. The Phoenix forced 21 turnovers in the contest after Loyola entered the game as the nation's second-best team averaging just 11.6 per game. The Ramblers missed their first nine shots from behind the arc and finished the game just 15-51 from the field for a 29.4 percent mark. The victory marked the seventh time this season an opponent failed to reach 40 points, and was the second straight game an opponent did not have a player score in double figures.
TRACKING THE PANTHERS: Milwaukee has won three of its last five games to move out of the bottom spot in the Horizon League standings to the sixth-place spot. The Panthers strung together a three-game winning streak that included road wins at Valparaiso and Wright State before dropping two straight games. On Thursday, Milwaukee got back to winning ways with a 72-63 outing at home against UIC. Milwaukee is the league's best team when it comes to long-range shooting, as the team hits an average of 9.0 triples per game and connects on 35.7 percent of its 3-point attempts.
LUKAN GOOD OUT THERE: Redshirt sophomore Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) has been on a tear from long range over the past four games, connecting on 15 of 33 attempts from behind the arc after hitting just 6-34 in the 23 games prior. Lukan turned in a 1-4 performance from long range in the first half against Loyola, but went 2-2 in the second half to finish at 3-6. In the win at Detroit on Feb. 28, Lukan went 0-5 from behind the arc in the first half before connecting on an incredible 6-8 from downtown in the final 20 minutes. In the effort, she tied the program's third-best mark for 3-point field goals in a game with six, and set the new program record with 13 attempts.
PANTHER HUNTING, ROUND TWO: In the first meeting this season, Green Bay defeated Milwaukee 64-49 at the Kress Center on Alumni Night. The Phoenix was able to build a lead of more than 20 points in the second half, but Milwaukee's Emily Decorah used a 5-10 effort from downtown to prevent the Phoenix from pulling away. The Panthers closed the game on an 8-1 run, but Green Bay still secured the 15-point win.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: For Green Bay, a win on Saturday would mark the sixth time in program history the team finished undefeated in conference play. The Phoenix finished perfect in conference play twice under Matt Bollant and once under head coach Kevin Borseth in his final season of his first stint, the 2006-07 campaign. For Milwaukee, a win guarantees the team can finish no worse than seventh place. Depending the outcome of other conference games on Saturday, a loss could force the Panthers to play in Monday's play-in game for the Horizon League tournament between the eighth- and ninth-seeded teams.
SHARING IS CARING: The Phoenix registered 20 assists on 21 field goals in Thursday's win over Loyola, marking the first time this season only one field goal didn't have an assist. Green Bay recorded assists on all but two baskets in each of the contests against UIC this season, and broke the program's 27-year-old record for assists in a game with 34 against the Flames on Feb. 2.
TAKING A TOLL ON THE POLLS: The Phoenix continued to move up in both polls this week, first claiming the No. 20 spot in the AP Top-25 poll after holding down the No. 21 spot last week. In the USA Today Coaches poll released on Tuesday, Green Bay jumped three places to No. 20 after coming in last week at No. 23. Green Bay is once again the No. 2 team trailing only Delaware in the College Insider Mid-Major poll, but received just one first-place vote in this week's edition.
TOURNAMENT TALK: Green Bay will once again host the Horizon League Tournament, which begins on Wednesday, March 13. The Kress Center has hosted every Horizon League Tournament since its opening for the 2007-08 season. As of Charlie Creme's ESPN Bracketology update on Monday, the Phoenix is currently predicted to be a No. 7 seed in the Queens, N.Y. regional against No. 10 seed St. John's.
FOLLOW IT LIVE: Fans can listen live on Saturday as Bruce VandenPlas will have the call on The Fan 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 open the 2013 Horizon League
Tournament on Wednesday against the winner of the No. 8/No. 9 seed game played
on Monday. For tickets to Wednesday's quarterfinal round and all other rounds, click
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