By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The moment young women on basketball courts across America dream about their entire lives is just around the corner for the No. 20/20 Green Bay women’s basketball team. On Sunday, the No. 11 seed Phoenix (29-2, 16-0 HL) will open the 2013 NCAA Tournament at RV/-- LSU (20-11, 10-6 SEC) in Baton Rouge, La. Tipoff against the sixth-seeded Lady Tigers will be at approximately 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
After yet another lockdown defensive performance in a 54-38 win over Loyola in the Horizon League Championship game on March 17, it was announced on Monday that Green Bay would travel to Baton Rouge as the No. 11 seed for the second time in five years. The Phoenix will look for revenge from the 2009 NCAA Tournament when No. 11 seed Green Bay fell to No. 6 seed LSU 69-59 in the first round.
SCOUTING THE LADY TIGERS: In its last game more than two weeks ago, LSU fell victim to No. 12 Georgia in the SEC Tournament on March 8 in a 71-53 setback. The Lady Tigers have only eight active players but feature three players standing 6’4 or taller, led by 6’5 All-SEC standout Theresa Plaisance. Although never seeing a player at 6’4 or taller, Green Bay has faced a number of 6’3 players this season including Wisconsin’s post threat Cassie Rochel who was held scoreless in a 53-38 win on Dec. 23.
COMMON OPPONENTS: The Phoenix and Lady Tigers enter the contest with two common opponents from this season—Wichita State and Missouri. In the second game of the 2012 Cancun Challenge, Green Bay closed the game against Missouri on a 20-0 run over the final 11 minutes to bring home a 55-33 win. The Phoenix then played its final road nonconference game of the 2012-13 season at Wichita State on Dec. 30, defeating the Shockers 63-42. LSU opened the season with a 72-70 win over Wichita State at home, while squeezing by the Tigers in a 78-74 overtime road battle on Feb. 22.
DEJA VU: For Green Bay, this year’s NCAA Tournament features the exact same seed, location and opponent as the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Redshirt senior Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) is the only player on the current roster who was a member of the team in that matchup as an inactive redshirt. Since that meeting, Green Bay has won three straight first round games.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: For a second-straight year, Green Bay opens the NCAA Tournament as a road team on an opponent’s home floor. Last season, the No. 7 seed Phoenix defeated Iowa State 71-57 in the first round, marking the first time in program history the team won an NCAA Tournament game on an opposing team’s home court.
TV STARS: Sunday’s game will be the sixth televised game for Green Bay this season. In all five previous matchups, the Phoenix has been victorious for a perfect 5-0 record on the tube. The current 24-game winning streak kicked off in a televised contest at Marquette.
SEASONED VETS: With an appearance in Sunday’s championship game, senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) will have played in 133 career games, more than any other player in the 40-year history of Green Bay women’s basketball. Both Eichler and fellow senior Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) will make their eighth NCAA Tournament appearances on Sunday, tying the program record set last year by Hannah Quilling and Julie Wojta.
RECORD-BREAKING RITCHIE: Senior Adrian Ritchie heads to her final NCAA Tournament as the program’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals made (195) and 3-pointers attempted (533). She’s made 70 triples this season, tying the program’s top mark for 3-point field goals made in a single season.
SENIOR SUCCESS: Green Bay’s five-member senior class is a perfect 3-0 in first round games of the NCAA Tournament, and also boasts a 10-1 record in Horizon League Tournament contests after the Horizon League Championship win over Loyola. The class has a total record of 4-3 in the NCAA Tournament with a Sweet 16 appearance and two trips to the Second Round. To date, the five seniors have helped the program achieve a remarkable 122-15 record under their watch.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The winner of Sunday’s contest will play the winner of No. 3 seed Penn State and No. 14 seed Cal Poly. The Phoenix has never faced Cal Poly, but holds a 1-0 record over Penn State after a win during the 2010-11 season.
WATCH AND LISTEN LIVE: Sunday’s contest will be televised live on ESPN2 in Green Bay, the Fox Cities and the majority of Northeastern Wisconsin. The rest of the state will be on whip-around coverage between the three other games being played at that time. The game will also be streamed live online on ESPN3. Fans can listen live on Friday as Bruce VandenPlas will have the call on The Fan 107.5 FM, 1400 AM and TheFan1075.com.
STAY CONNECTED: Live stats will be available on LSUSports.net. Be sure to follow @GBPhoenixWBB and @JustinGrones on Twitter for updates throughout the game, and check out Tournament Central on GreenBayPhoenix.com for information regarding tickets, feature stories and video features.
To follow the Phoenix in the NCAA Tournament, visit Tournament Central presented by Packers Pro Shop.
For tickets and other information on the First and Second Round games at the Maravich Center, please visit LSUSports.net. Single-session and all-session ticket packages are available. All-session packages can be purchased for $25 for Adults and $15 for Youth. Single-session tickets are being sold for a variety of prices depending on location.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.