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Women's Basketball Opens WNIT at Minnesota on Wednesday

Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics
         
Release: March 18, 2014
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By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay women’s basketball will be making its 17th-consecutive postseason tournament appearance on Wednesday as it faces the University of Minnesota in the opening round of the WNIT at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

The Phoenix (22-9) received an automatic berth into the WNIT after winning the Horizon League regular season championship. Minnesota (20-12) also received an automatic at-large berth after being the first Big Ten member to not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Green Bay’s appearance in this year’s WNIT marks the 17th-consecutive season the Phoenix has appeared in a postseason tournament, and fourth time playing in the WNIT. The Phoenix is 0-3 in the WNIT, previously playing during the 2007-08, 2005-06 and 2000-01 seasons. In its last trip to the WNIT, the Phoenix fell to Drake, 56-65, in Des Moines. All told in 27 years at the D-I level, Green Bay has made 18 combined appearances in either the NCAA Tournament or WNIT, posting a record of 6-17.

Minnesota enters Wednesday’s game with an overall record of 20-12, finishing with an 8-8 record in Big Ten play. Most recently earning the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, the Gophers topped Wisconsin in the opening round before losing to Nebraska in the quarterfinals. During conference play, Minnesota opened with a record of 2-6 but finished strong winning six of its final eight contests. The Phoenix and Gophers have two common opponents on the season, Horizon League member Oakland, and Wisconsin. Green Bay swept Oakland in both matchups and Minnesota defeated them (79-43) to close its non-conference schedule. Minnesota topped Wisconsin in all three meetings, while the Phoenix fell in overtime at the Kohl Center in December. 

Junior Rachel Banham leads the team and conference averaging 22.0 points, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game, while freshman Amanda Zahui B. averages 14.9 points and a team- and conference-best 11.5 rebounds per game. Banham was a unanimous pick for the All-Big Ten First Team, while Zahui B. was named the conference Freshman of the Year. As a team, much like Green Bay, Minnesota stands near the end of the conference standings in offensive production (68.9, 9th), but is second in scoring defense (63.2) and first in field goal percentage defense (37.0%). It is also the best three-shooting team in the Big Ten at 39.3 percent for the season.

STARTING FIVE
1. Postseason Play:
Green Bay’s appearance in this year’s WNIT marks the 17th-consecutive season the Phoenix has appeared in a postseason tournament, and fourth time playing in the WNIT. The Phoenix is 0-3 in the WNIT, previously playing during the 2007-08, 2005-06 and 2000-01 seasons. In its last trip to the WNIT, the Phoenix fell to Drake, 56-65, in Des Moines. All told in 27 years at the D-I level, Green Bay has made 18 combined appearances in either the NCAA Tournament or WNIT, posting a record of 6-17.

2. Shooting Stars: Green Bay’s performance from the floor during the Horizon League Tournament was impressive, with the Phoenix shooting a combined 49.4 percent (83-168) from the field. The team shot over 45 percent in all three games and over 50 percent in both the quarterfinals against Valparaiso and semifinals against Wright State. This season, Green Bay is 6-1 when shooting over 50 percent, with the only loss coming at the hands of Wright State on Sunday. The Phoenix is also 19-2 when it shoots a higher percentage than its opponents.

3. Feed it in: Green Bay has been able to capitalize on offensive production in the paint this season, receiving 48.5 percent (1032-2129) of its total points from the lane while outscoring its opponents in the category by a +424 point margin (1032-588). Green Bay has received more paint points than its opposition in all but two games this season, a loss to South Dakota State (12/7) and a win over Valparaiso (3/1). In the Horizon League Championship game against Wright State on Sunday, the Phoenix had a season-high 50 paint points.

4. Roaring Twenties: With a win against Detroit on March 8, Green Bay locked up its 27th all-time 20+ win season in program history. It also marked the 15th consecutive 20+ win season for the program and 10th under head coach Kevin Borseth, who has reached the mark in all but one season in his time at Green Bay.

5. In Good Company: During the past six seasons, Green Bay is the fourth-winningest team (based on percentage) in NCAA Division I with a 173-25 mark, trailing only Connecticut, Stanford and Baylor. With a 22-9 record this season, Green Bay now has 37 consecutive winning seasons trailing only Tennessee (41) in active winning season streaks.

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