By: Jill Wunrow (@JillWunrow)
CANCUN, Mexico (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Entering the final game of the Cancun Challenge, the Green Bay (4-1) women's basketball team knew it would have a big test facing a tough defensive Richmond (3-4) team that had not lost a game in the Cancun Challenge, until it met the Phoenix. Led by a career-high 26 points from senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.), Green Bay crushed the Spiders with a 79-48 win Saturday, Nov. 24 at the Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico.
"I thought Richmond is as good defensive team that we'll see all year long and we did a very good job of breaking it down and taking care of the ball," said head coach Kevin Borseth.
Eichler sank a career-high five three pointers as one of eight players to hit a three as part of Green Bay's season-high 14 threes in a contest.
"She's our toughness and our leader and I remind her to make every player around her better," Borseth said of Eichler. "I thought she took care of the ball really well for us tonight."
Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) opened the scoring for the Phoenix with a three pointer from the left corner, igniting a 10-2 run early on. Richmond's first bucket of the contest came at 14:34 off a jump shot from Lauren Tolson and after the Spiders first three pointer of the contest, Eichler answered with her second three of the game to give the Phoenix a 13-5 advantage at the 13:29 mark.
Stephanie Sension's (Hopkins, Minn.) lone three of the game from the left wing gave the Phoenix 18-9 lead at the 8:28 mark. Eichler's third three with 5:31 to play gave Green Bay a 10-point advantage and Gilbertson's deep three from the right wing gave the Phoenix its largest lead of the half (30-13) with 2:58 remaining.
In the final 5:31 of the half, Green Bay outscored Richmond 13-5 featuring eight points from Eichler, to give the Phoenix the 33-18 advantage at the break.
"We came out ready to play and knew what they were going to do against us defensively," Eichler said. "It was important for us to make the extra pass and I just happen to be on the receiving end of those extra passes."
Eichler's fourth three of the first half came off a perfectly executed play as time expired. With Sam Zastrow (Algoma, Wis.) running the point, Green Bay used all final 30 seconds of the clock. Zastrow penetrated the lane and dished out to Bauer on the top of the key who found Eichler in the corner. Green Bay's entire bench and 24 fans who made the trip to Cancun erupted with excitement as the horn sounded.
Green Bay sank a first half season-high seven three pointers as Eichler led all players with 14 points, going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. The Phoenix shot 50 percent from both the field and three-point range while its defense forced Richmond eight turnovers.
In the second half, the Phoenix continued to control the game from beyond the arc as Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) sank two threes and Bauer added one in the first four minutes of play. Green Bay led 51-28 at the first media timeout after Sension sank her second three from the right corner and was fouled on the play.
The Spiders' defense did not give up more than 61 points this season until Sension sank a layup down low to boost the Phoenix lead to 63-34 at the 10:59 mark of the second half. Sension's bucket was part of a 15-2 run by Green Bay featuring scoring from four different players, forcing Richmond to call timeout.
Green Bay never let up the entire contest as it built its lead to as much as 33 after a pair of free throws from Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) with 5:13 to play.
The Phoenix shot 60 percent in the second half, shooting 60 percent from the field, 70 percent from three-point range and 71 percent from the charity stripe while its defense forced 14 turnovers. Ritchie led all players with 12 of her 14 points in the second half, including going 2-for-2 from three-point range.
Green Bay's bench contributed 22 points in the win, led by Ranger with six points while Jenny Gilbertson (Wabasha, Minn.) led the way on the boards with four while contributing five points.
"No matter how many minutes our players on the bench plays the fact that they have been coming in and picking up right where we left off is huge for them," said Eichler of her teammates. "They went into the game and worked hard, made good passes and traps and their defense was solid."
As a team the Phoenix outrebounded Richmond 24-21 while finishing the game shooting 55 percent from the field, 58 percent from three point range and 70 percent from the free throw line.
CAREER RECORDS IN CANCUN: With Green Bay finishing the Cancun Challenge 2-1 against its opponents, each game featured a career milestone by three different Phoenix players. In Green Bay's opening contest against James Madison, senior Stephanie Sension posted career highs in rebounds (10), points (19), assists (4) and steals (4) as part of her first career double double performance.
In Green Bay's second game against Missouri, Jenny Gilbertson sank a career-high three three pointers while playing a career-high 23 minutes which she surpasses playing 24 minutes against Richmond. In addition to Eichler's career-high 26 points against Richmond, Breannah Ranger played a career-high 19 minutes and freshman Taylor Thomas (Wausau, Wis.) scored her first collegiate points of her career with a three pointer in the second half. Ellen Edison (Maple Grove, Minn.) made her collegiate debut in a regular season game against Richmond, playing six minutes while grabbing one rebound and one steal.
NEXT UP: Green Bay returns to the confines of the Kress Events Center Friday, Nov. 30 as it hosts University of Indianapolis at 7 p.m. before traveling to Central Michigan Wednesday, Dec. 5 and Marquette Saturday, Dec. 8.
Full season ticket and Pick 5 packages are on sale now with the Green Bay Athletics Ticket Office. For more information and to order tickets, please call 920.465.2625 or visit the athletics department offices in the Kress Events Center.
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