Women's Basketball Battles to top of HL with 79-72 OT Thriller
By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
DAYTON, Ohio (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – In a physical battle for the top spot in the Horizon League, the Green Bay women’s basketball earned a thrilling 79-72 victory over Wright State at the Nutter Center on Thursday evening.
With the win and a Youngstown State loss to UIC, the Phoenix moved into sole possession of first place with a record of 10-3 and an overall mark of 17-8. Wright State fell to 20-8 overall and 9-4 in the Horizon League.
“It was anyone’s game tonight,” head coach Kevin Borseth said. “Wright State makes you beat them, they play strong and with a lot of heart, and the fans really saw a good one tonight.”
Heading into overtime tied at 68, senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) hit a layup off an assist by classmate Sam Zastrow (Algoma, Wis.) for the first points of the extra session, putting the Phoenix ahead for good. Sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) scored the next four points for the Phoenix, sandwiching a layup by Wright State’s Ivory James to put Green Bay ahead by four, 74-70, with 2:29 on the clock.
Wright State got to within two points after a pair of Tay’ler Mingo free throws (74-72), but it was all the closer it would get. After neither team was able to score a basket during a nearly two minute span as the clock wound down to 30 seconds, Green Bay scored the final five points of the contest for the final 79-72 margin.
Freshman Mariah Monke (Fergus Falls, Minn.) started the scoring, and junior Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) came up with a big defensive rebound on the next Raiders possession before being fouled to send her to the line where she made the first of two free throws. Kim Demmings missed a runner on the next possession and it was again a big defensive rebound by the Phoenix, this time by freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.)that sealed the game. Pulling the ball down, she was fouled and walked to the other end of the court where she sunk both of her free throws with six seconds remaining.
“I don’t know that we ran anything different in overtime to make the difference, but we were able to work through the heavy pressure that Wright State put on us all night,” Borseth said. “Shooting is all about rhythm and we were able to find it and make the shots.”
It was a game of runs in the second half, featuring nine ties and three lead changes. Wright State led by as many as eight points with 15:47 remaining (43-35) before an 11-3 Phoenix run tied it for the sixth time in the contest, 46-46, with 12:24 remaining. No team led by more than three points the rest of the way, as Green Bay went ahead 68-65 with 1:41 on the clock. A three by Breanna Stucke tied it with 1:28, and neither team was able to score in the final minute, sending it to overtime.
Wright State came out strong to start the game, building to a nine point lead (16-7) just over eight minutes in. The Phoenix weathered the storm and went on a 15-5 run over the next six minutes to assume its first lead of the contest, 22-21, with 6:19 remaining. A stingy defense forced five Raider turnovers during the run, while Green Bay shared the wealth on the offensive end with six different players scoring during the run, capped by a pair of free throws by Zastrow.
Green Bay led by as many as three with just over five minutes remaining (24-21) before Wright State closed the opening stanza on a 15-7 run including a buzzer-beater shot by Breanna Stucke to give the home team a 36-31 lead at halftime.
Zastrow had a career game, finishing with 12 points and six assists in 29 minutes. Freshman Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) had a strong second half scoring 15 of her 19 points, while Buck notched her first career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ranger also finished with a double-double, chipping in 14 points and 10 boards.
“Sam[Zastrow] was the player of the game for us,” Borseth said. “Tonight she came in and had a lot of great plays. She played in a triple threat position, something a lot of our kids couldn’t do tonight because Wright State is so strong.”
Green Bay finished the game shooting 45.9 percent (28-61) from the field, including a perfect 4-for-4 in overtime. They also led the Raiders in rebounding (44-36), points in the paint (38-18) and bench points (26-10).
Wright State finished the game 33.3 percent (21-63) from the field and received 20 point performances from Demmings and James. Tayler Stanton finished with a game-high 14 rebounds.
“One game doesn’t make a season, and we are going to have to play Valpo at home on Saturday so we need to be ready,” Borseth said.
Green Bay returns to action on Saturday, traveling to Valparaiso for a 7 p.m. contest.
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