Women's Basketball Starts Second Half of HL Season at UIC
By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Exactly one month from when both teams started their Horizon League seasons, the Green Bay and UIC women’s basketball teams will square off on the second go-around of the conference schedule on Saturday afternoon at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
Fans can listen live to the game on Green Bay's new radio partner, WNFL 1440 AM. The live audio with Bruce VandenPlas on the call will also be available for free via GreenBayPhoenix.com or on the Green Bay Phoenix App on IOS and Android devices. Due to a conflict with the men's basketball broadcast prior to the start of the women's game there will be no pregame show. The game will be available online for free through the Horizon League Network, and live stats will also be provided through UICFlames.com.
Green Bay and UIC will be meeting for the 62nd time on Saturday, with the Phoenix leading the all-time series 56-5. Green Bay has won the last nine meetings, including a 66-50 triumph at the Kress Center earlier this season to open Horizon League action for both teams. The last Phoenix loss came in Chicago during the 2009-10 campaign.
A big 23-7 run over the final 12:54 and 20-point performances by sophomore Kaili Lukan and freshman Tesha Buck helped lead the Phoenix to a 66-50 win over the Flames on Jan. 8. Tied at 29-29 at halftime, UIC came out of intermission and assumed its largest lead of the contest (34-30) just two minutes in. However, Green Bay kept the game close as it tied the score at 34-34 before the lead exchanged hands four times with three ties eventually arriving at a 43-43 draw. That’s when the Phoenix took control, ending the contest on a commanding 23-7 run for the final 66-50 margin. The win kept Green Bay’s slate clean in Horizon League openers, and also kept them unbeaten at home against UIC.
After starting the Horizon League season 1-2 the Phoenix has rebounded, rattling off five consecutive wins to move into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with a record of 6-2. All but one of the wins has come by double digits, with the Phoenix outscoring the opposition by +9.0 (71.8-62.8), owning both the top marks in scoring defense and margin. The Phoenix also stands atop the conference rankings outrebounding its opponents by +8.7 (40.4-31.6) and averaging 16.9 assists per game. Kaili Lukan continues to lead the team with 13.0 points per game, while senior Breannah Ranger has a team-best 7.2 rebounds per game, junior Megan Lukan has 4.5 assists per game and Buck averages 1.9 steals per game.
UIC stands at 17-5 overall and 6-3 in the Horizon League, most recently rebounding from a loss to Wright State (77-74) with a 70-62 win over Oakland on Tuesday. The Flames started their Horizon League season 0-2 but have since rebounded to go 6-1. Ruvanna Campbell (28 pts., 13 reb.) finished with a double-double in the contest for her fourth-consecutive effort. Three Flames are averaging double-digit scoring, led by Rachel Story (18.6), Campbell (16.3) and Katie Hannemann (12.8). Campbell also averages a team-best 11.4 rebounds, while Terri Bender leads in assists (3.9) and steals (2.8).
1. At the Midpoint: After starting the Horizon League season 1-2 the Phoenix has rebounded, rattling off five consecutive wins to move into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with a record of 6-2. All but one of the wins has come by double digits, with the Phoenix outscoring the opposition by +9.0 (71.8-62.8), owning both the top marks in scoring defense and margin. The Phoenix also stands atop the conference rankings outrebounding its opponents by +8.7 (40.4-31.6) and averaging 16.9 assists per game.
2. Hot Hand: Freshman Mehryn Kraker proved to be the catalyst for the Green Bay offense over the past three games en route to being named the Horizon League Freshman of the Week on Monday. Against Oakland on Thursday, Kraker led the Phoenix with 16 points before going on to record a career-high 30 points, nine rebounds and two steals versus Detroit on Saturday. The 30 point performance was the first for a Phoenix player since Julie Wojta did it during the 2011-12 season. In the last three contests, Kraker is averaging 18.3 points while shooting 64.3 percent (18-28) from the field and 59.1 percent (13-22) from deep.
3. Sharp Shooter: Serving as the senior leader for the Phoenix this season, Breannah Ranger has stepped up her play during the Horizon League season. In eight conference games Ranger is shooting 64.9 percent (37-57) from the field while averaging 10.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. She has shot over 50.0 percent in all but one of those games and recorded double-digit point efforts in five contests. Meanwhile, her 64.9 shooting percentage is tops among the Horizon League in conference-only competition and her 52.4% (87-166) shooting for the season is also number one.
4. Stat Stuffers: Seeing diversity from its top players this season, Green Bay currently boasts two players that rank among the conference leaders in four statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists and steals. Junior Megan Lukan (9.6 pts., 5.4 reb., 4.5 ast., 1.5 stl.) and freshman Tesha Buck (10.1 pts., 5.3 reb., 4.1 ast., 1.9 stl.) join Wright State junior Kim Demmings and Oakland sophomore Elena Popkey as the only individuals ranked in each of the aforementioned categories.
5. Feed it in: Green Bay has been able to capitalize on offensive production in the paint this season, receiving 46.9 percent (640-1365) of its total points from the lane while outscoring its opponents in the category by a +270 point margin (640-370). Green Bay has received more paint points than its opposition in all but one game this season, a loss to South Dakota State (12/7). Senior Breannah Ranger leads all Phoenix with 174 points in the paint.
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