Late Comeback Falls Short as Phoenix Falls to No. 18/21 Purdue, 49-45
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Trailing by 11 points with three minutes remaining, a resilient Green Bay women’s basketball team mounted a comeback that got them to within a point but eventually fell short as the Phoenix dropped a 49-45 decision to No. 18/21 Purdue, on Wednesday evening at the Kress Center.
Down by two points (20-18) to start the second half, the Boilermakers (8-2) looked to put the game away early in the second half as it started with a 10-0 run to jump out to a 28-20 lead just three minutes in. The lead grew to as many as 12 points (34-22) midway through the second stanza, but Green Bay (6-4) never quit.
With Purdue leading 34-22 at the 12:50 mark, the Phoenix went on a 8-1 run over the next 5:03 to get back to within five points (35-30) with 7:47 remaining. Back-to-back threes from junior Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) and freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) kick started the Green Bay offense before a layup by senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) brought the Phoenix to within five points (35-30). A three by Purdue’s KK Houser brought the run to an end, but on the next possession Buck responded with a trey of her own to keep the margin at five points
However, the Boilermakers used a quick 6-0 run to push its advantage back to 11 points (44-33) before the Phoenix mounted its late game rally to nearly pull off the upset. A 10-0 run powered by a three point shot from Megan Lukan and back-to-back layups from Buck and Ranger was capped as freshman Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) found the net deep in the corner for a three-point shot to get the Phoenix to within one, 44-43, with 49 seconds remaining.
Back at the other end of the court, a Ranger foul put Purdue at the line for two free throw points, and on the ensuing possession Kraker had another three-point look at the basket with 19 seconds remaining that bounced out but deflected off a Boilermaker to keep possession with the Phoenix. On the inbounds play Buck’s three-point attempt sailed high, and Purdue’s Houser was fouled on the rebound to send her to the line where she made both. Megan Lukan got a layup with four seconds remaining to get the home team back to within three, 48-45, but Houser made one of two free throws in the final minutes to secure the 49-45 victory for the Boilermakers.
Purdue scored the first basket of the game, but the Phoenix then used a 9-1 run to assume its largest lead of the half (9-3) at the 11:48 mark. Redshirt freshman Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) led off with a three before the Phoenix moved the attack inside with paint points by freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) and classmate Mariah Monke (Fergus Falls, Minn.). The Boilermakers received a point on an April Wilson free throw, but sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) again found the bucket from the lane to put the Phoenix ahead, 9-3.
The Boilermakers were able to tie the game on two more occasions, unable to grab the lead as the Phoenix offense responded each time to keep the home team ahead. Tied 11-11 with 7:01 on the clock, Green Bay steadily maintained its lead, going ahead by as many as four points (20-16) in the closing minutes before Purdue sunk a pair of free throws to pull to within two (20-18) going into intermission.
Strong freshman play carried the Phoenix in the first 20 minutes, with Kraker, Buck, Monke and Sam Terry (Baraboo, Wis.) combining to score 16 of the team’s 20 points. Both teams struggled to make shots fall, as Green Bay shot 27.3 percent (9-33) from the field and Purdue shot 31.8 percent (7-22).
The shooting totals didn’t improve much for the game, as the Phoenix was 28.4 percent (19-67) from the field for the game, while the visitors shot 35.0% (14-40). In a sight not normally seen, Green Bay went to the free throw line just one time in the contest, as Terry missed the lone attempt at the 6:40 mark of the first half. On the other end, Purdue was 17-of-21 (81.0%) from the charity stripe.
The Boilermakers controlled the boards, 45-31, but Green Bay stood atop in almost every other statistical category including steals (10-5), assists (13-9), turnovers (10-21), points in the paint (22-8) and points off turnovers (22-4). Both teams also finished with six blocks, a single-game season high for the Phoenix.
Green Bay was paced by 10 points apiece from Buck and Megan Lukan. Monke had a strong showing, finishing with a career-high seven points and three blocks in addition to four rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench, while Ranger finished with six points and a team-high five rebounds.
Purdue was led by a game-high 17 points from Houser, and Whitney Bays added a game-best 10 rebounds.
The Phoenix will now enjoy a break for the holidays before returning to the court against in-state rival Wisconsin on Monday, December 30 at 6 p.m.
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