Standing Alone: Women's Basketball Claims Outright Regular Season HL Title
By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – In an emotional day at the Kress Center, the Green Bay women’s basketball team claimed sole possession of its 16th-consecutive Horizon League title with a 72-52 triumph over Detroit.
Green Bay concludes the regular season with a record of 20-8 and 13-3 in the Horizon League, taking home its 17th overall conference title and 16th consecutive since joining during the 1994-95 season. Reaching the 20 win plateau, the Phoenix has now achieved that feat for the 27th time in program history, 15th consecutive year and 10th under head coach Kevin Borseth. He has guided the Phoenix to 20+ wins in all but one season at Green Bay, his first season in 1998-99 when the squad finished with 19.
One of the top performances of the day was from senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.), who on senior day finished with a career-high 20 points, setting the bar for the second-consecutive game after posting a then-career high 19 against Oakland on Thursday. Freshman Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) posted her first career double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while classmate Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) tied a career best with seven assists.
“It was a quiet 20 for Bre from my view today,” head coach Kevin Borseth said. “She’s grown a lot, even when it is tough around the basket she has really come a long way to play big and strong and it is fun to watch her out on the court.”
Green Bay came out firing to start the game, opening with a 9-0 run over the first three minutes. Starting with a layup by Ranger, Kraker then drilled a three in the corner before Ranger and sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) put up back-to-back layups for the 9-0 advantage. The defense was also impressive during the run, forcing five Titans turnovers on its first six possessions before the visitors called a timeout.
“It’s key for us to come out strong and then sustain that momentum,” Borseth said. “I felt today we came out strong and then hit a little bit of a slow spot, but then we were able to pick it back up and play with the intensity we started with.”
Coming out of the timeout, Detroit swung the game in its favor with a 10-0 run to assume its only lead of the game, 10-9, with 14:44 remaining. However another Phoenix run gave Green Bay the lead for good as it went on an 8-0 spurt over 3:18 to jump out to an 18-10 lead. The run was part of a final 22-7 run for the Phoenix, as it held Detroit to just two field goals over the final 14 minutes of the half.
The senior duo of Ranger and Sam Zastrow (Algoma, Wis.) started the 8-0 run before Kraker closed it with a layup and-1 and two free throws on consecutive possessions. After a three minute scoreless drought for both teams, the Titans received their final field goal of the half on a Haleigh Ristovski layup with 8:37 remaining before Green Bay closed on a 13-5 run to assume a 31-17 halftime lead.
Detroit cut the lead to 11 points with just over eight minutes remaining in the second half (51-40), but the Green Bay lead never went to single digits in the second stanza as the Phoenix took back control to cruise to the 72-52 victory.
“It’s an emotional day but we still have more games to play,” Ranger said. “It’s a great feeling, to be the leader of the team this season. We had some bumps in the road, but we came together and helped each other through the ups and downs to get to where we are today.”
Green Bay finished the game shooting 40.3 percent from the field (25-62) while holding the Titans to just 27.8 percent shooting (15-54). The Phoenix also dominated the boards, 45-36, and play in the paint, 34-18, while receiving 23 points from its bench while dishing out 19 assists on 25 baskets.
Senee Shearer led Detroit with 19 points, while Megan Hatter added a team-best 10 rebounds.
“To have a hand in it this year and know you were a part of it and contributing, it has been a great feeling,” Kraker said. “But we still have a lot of work to do. I just keep playing and helping the team any way that I can and I know that myself and my teammates all support each other so we can reach our goals.”
“As a coach you are given the credit, but the team really deserves it for how they have come together,” Borseth said. “I can put together plays, but it’s the girls who go out there and make them happen, and they have really come together this year to get it done.”
With the Horizon League slate of competition wrapping up on Saturday, Green Bay secured the No. 1 seed and will host the conference tournament. The Phoenix will face either No. 8 Detroit or No. 9 Valparaiso next Wednesday evening at the Kress Center.
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