Women's Basketball Holds Strong for 69-67 Win over Wright State
By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – In a second half that saw the lead exchange hands six times with one tie, the Green Bay women’s basketball defense stepped up big in the final seconds as the Phoenix squeaked by Wright State with a 69-67 triumph on Saturday afternoon at the Kress Center.
The win improved Green Bay to 10-7 overall and 3-2 in the Horizon League, while Wright State dropped to 15-6 overall and 4-2 in the conference. It also kept the Phoenix slate clean in home games against the Raiders, improving to 27-0. Green Bay sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) posted her fourth 20+ point performances in five Horizon League games finishing with 23 points, while senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) continued her strong play against the Raiders with a career-high 18 points. Ranger now has 10 or more points in each of the last three games against Wright State.
Green Bay started the second half with a three point lead (33-30) before Wright State’s Ivory James tied the game as she collected an offensive rebound and put up a three point shot 30 seconds into the second stanza. A Ranger layup put the Phoenix back in the lead on the next possession, and Green Bay held on to at least a two point advantage all the way to the 12:35 mark (45-43).
Turnovers on the next two Phoenix possessions gave Wright State an opportunity to take the lead, as second half star Kim Demmings connected on a three to give the visitors their first lead of the contest, 46-45, with 11:21 on the clock. The lead exchanged hands five more times over the next 2:33 before a layup by junior Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) put the Phoenix ahead for good, 51-50, with 8:48 remaining.
The Phoenix then proceeded to go on a 10-2 run over the next 3:36 to tie its largest lead of the contest at nine points (61-52). Kaili Lukan put up back-to-back layups and sophomore Taylor Thomas (Wausau, Wis.) stepped up with a big layup and-1 under the basket to swing momentum in favor of the Phoenix before sophomore Ellen Edison (Maple Grove, Minn.) closed the run with a three.
Green Bay maintained that lead all the way to the 4:02 mark when it owned a 65-56 advantage on the scoreboard. However, Wright State charged back into the game with a 10-3 run to get to within a point, 68-67, with 53 seconds remaining to set up the late game dramatics.
On the next possession, Kaili Lukan missed the second of a pair of free throws, and the Raiders Tayler Stanton came up with the defensive rebound. Traveling to the other end of the court, James’ three went off target for Wright State, and freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) grabbed the big rebound under the basket for the Phoenix, and she then found Megan Lukan at midcourt on the break, where she was fouled with 14 seconds remaining. Lukan missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Demmings came up with the rebound for Wright State giving them an opportunity for a last-minute shot.
The Phoenix defense stood strong, as a Kaili Lukan steal helped second tick off the clock, but she quickly turned it over again to put the ball in the hands of the hot-shooting Demmings, who’s last-minute shot attempt fell short of the win, preserving the two-point victory for the Phoenix.
It was a streaky first half for the Phoenix who scored the first points of the game and maintained that lead throughout despite several challenges from Wright State. Kaili Lukan netted the first two field goals of the contest for the Phoenix, and Green Bay held on to the advantage going up by one (7-6) with 17:46 on the clock.
Green Bay then went on an 8-0 run over the next 2:39 to assume its largest lead of the half, 15-6, receiving a layup from Kaili Lukan and back-to-back three pointers by Buck. The Raiders pulled back to within three (19-16) with 6:05 remaining but another run by the Phoenix, this time 6-0, put the lead back at nine points (25-16) with 4:22 showing.
Hot shooting from deep drew the Raiders back to within two points with just over two minutes left (27-25) as the visitors were able to put up threes on three consecutive possessions. However, another 6-0 Green Bay run gave the home team an eight point lead, 33-25, at 1:01. But the Raiders registered the final five points of the half, all from Ivory James, as the Phoenix lead was cut to three, 33-30, at the break.
Green Bay recorded its second-consecutive game of shooting 50 percent or better from the field and having 20 or more assists, finishing the game at 50.9 percent (27-53) from the field with 20 assists on 27 baksets. The Phoenix outscored the Raiders 44-18 in the paint and was able to overcome 13 Wright State steals and 19 forced turnovers. Rebounds finished even at 40 apiece.
Buck had a great all-around performance for the Phoenix, finishing with a career-high eight rebounds in addition to nine points and five assists. Megan Lukan added seven points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Demmings led the Raiders with a game-high 24 points, with 21 of those coming in the second half. James added 22 points, and Tayler Stanton had a game-best 16 rebounds.
Green Bay returns to the court for a tough stretch next week, playing three games in five days. The swing starts with a contest at Oakland on Thursday at 6 p.m.
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