Simon's Hot Hand Counters Phoenix Balance

Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics
Release: February 12, 2012
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Senior Steve Baker was one of five Phoenix players in double figures on Sunday.

By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)

DETROIT, Mich. ( - On the offensive end, Green Bay (10-14, 6-8 HL) had a strong effort that put it in position to win on Sunday afternoon at Detroit (15-12, 9-6 HL). Unfortunately for a short stretch in the second half, the Titans' Chase Simon got hot against the Phoenix defense and helped his team overcome a 12-point deficit and post a 77-74 win at Calihan Hall.  

The Phoenix trailed 13-9 early before an 11-2 including two threes by senior Steve Baker (St. Paul, Minn) gave Green Bay a 20-15 edge with 11:39 to play. Another Baker triple came in the midst of a 7-0 run late in the half to give the Phoenix a 38-29 lead that Detroit closed to 38-31 at halftime.

Baker had all 11 of his points at the break on the strength of a 3-of-4 effort from long range. The Phoenix went 6-for-11 from three in the half and shot 54.2 percent from the field overall (13-24).

The defense was stifling for Green Bay in the opening 20 minutes as it held the Horizon League's best offense to just 31 points on 35.7 percent shooting (10-28). The Phoenix held Simon to just six points on 2-of-5 shooting.

Green Bay started the second half hot, with a three-point play by sophomore Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) and a couple of free throws from freshman Josh Humphrey (Chicago, Ill.) pushing the Phoenix lead to 43-31 with 17:10 to play.

The teams began to trade buckets, with sophomore Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) and junior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) knocking down threes and a jumper by freshman Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) keeping the Green Bay lead in double figures (51-40) with 13:25 left.

A steal and dunk by Ray McCallum jumpstarted things for Detroit, with the hosts putting together a 15-2 run that turned the deficit into a 55-53 Titan lead with 9:15 to play.

Green Bay's offense responded with scores on six possessions in a row, but Simon stayed hot for Detroit as the two teams traded the lead on eight-straight offensive possessions. Simon and LaMarcus Lowe each had stretches of seven points in a row for Detroit while Sykes had five points and an assist for the Phoenix.

Sykes put Green Bay ahead 65-64 on a jumper following a foul that sent Brown to the bench with five, but Detroit got a jumper and a three-point play from Lowe to move ahead for good.

Green Bay's freshman point guard, Sykes had a team-high 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting while dishing out five assists while Brown added 13 points. Sykes has reached double figures in 10 of his last 11 games while Brown has double figures in seven games in a row.

Detroit's lead grew to seven (73-66) with one minute to play before Cerroni got hot late and started a Phoenix rally. The sophomore drained a three to cut the deficit to four with 50 seconds left, and then followed two Simon free throws with another triple to close the margin to three with 40 seconds left.

After Simon and Cougill traded successful trips to the line, McCallum missed a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to give the Phoenix a chance to tie. Green Bay ended up having three shots at the game-tying three-pointer.

Cerroni took a contested three with nine seconds but the ball went out of bounds to the Phoenix. Cougill then missed a three with five ticks left before Cerroni grabbed the rebound and sprinted to the line for another shot. His fadeway from the right corner went in and out as time expired.

Simon scored 18 of his 24 points after halftime to lead four Titans in double figures. McCallum had 15 points but shot just 5-of-15 from the field while adding six assists. Lowe had 13 points while Jason Calliste chipped in with 11.

Cerroni and Cougill joined Sykes, Brown and Baker in double figures with 12 and 11, respectively. Cerroni was 4-of-8 from long range while Cougill made three of his five attempts from beyond the arc.

Green Bay dropped the game despite hitting 50 percent from the field (25-50) and the three-point line (11-22) and outrebounding the Titans 30-28. Detroit improved to 53.8 percent in the second half and finished the game 24-for-54 from the field. Even with the final two misses by McCallum, Detroit went 23-of-27 from the free throw line for 85.2 percent.

The Phoenix fell short in its attempt to record its first Horizon League weekend sweep in seven years while Detroit has now won eight of its last 10 games to move into a tie for third place in the conference standings.

The team's busy stretch of seven games in 16 days continues on Tuesday night when Green Bay welcomes Youngstown State to the Resch Center to start a three-game homestand. The contest is set for a 7 p.m. tipoff.


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