By Justin Grones
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Trailing 26-23 at the half, the Green Bay women's basketball team (6-2) put on a defensive display in the second half to defeat Marquette (4-4) 55-46 on the road on Saturday. The Phoenix forced 17 Marquette turnovers in the second half en route to improving to 31-8 all-time against the Golden Eagles.
"It was a tale of two halves for us, I really felt we looked unglued in the first half," head coach Kevin Borseth said. "We gathered ourselves in the second half and played extremely well on the defensive side of things. Our defense today was probably as good as it's ever been, it really got us going."
Green Bay opened the game on a 9-1 run, sparked by an Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) three and a transition layup by Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.), forcing Marquette to call a timeout. The Golden Eagles responded with an 11-3 run to tie things up with 10:33 remaining in the half, and eventually took the lead on an 11-2 run late in the opening frame.
Marquette led by as many as seven before Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario, Canada) grabbed her first of a game-high six steals and laid it in on the other end. Older sister Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario, Canada) found Ranger in transition seconds later to cut Marquette's lead to three going into the half.
Building on its 4-0 run at the end of the first half, Green Bay came out of the locker room with Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) grabbing a steal and laying it in on the other end to regain the lead at 27-26. Ritchie intercepted Marquette's ensuing inbounds pass and drew the shooting foul, where she hit one of two. Megan Lukan grabbed one of her five steals on the day on Marquette's next possession and found Sension for the finish.
Trailing 34-32 with 13:13 remaining, the Phoenix went on a 14-2 run over the next nine minutes to grab a 46-36 lead, forcing eight Marquette turnovers in the process and putting the game out of reach.
Marquette scored five points late in the game, but the Phoenix held on to grab its first win at the Al McGuire Center in program history while improving to 6-2 overall. Ritchie led Green Bay with 17 points while Sension pitched in 14. Kaili Lukan had career highs in both points and rebounds with six each, while older sister Megan had five assists and five steals. Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) had a game-high 10 rebounds.
"We really worked as a team on defense, and it makes it easier to get those steals when you do that," Kaili Lukan said. "Megan and I were brought up the same. We both work very hard defensively and know what we have to do."
Sarina Simmons led Marquette with 10 points and three steals, while Katherine Plouffe had nine points and five rebounds.
The Phoenix will have the next nine days off before returning to action at home against North Dakota State on Dec. 18. It will be just the third time Green Bay has played at home this season. The Phoenix will remain at home to host nonconference rival Wisconsin on Dec. 23.
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