By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - When Senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) stepped onto campus four years ago, she was the first person to forego an attempt from long range. Rather than take an attempt from behind the arc, the powerful forward would typically choose to drive the lane and shoot from inside instead. But during the past four seasons, Eichler has evolved into an all-around threat and become one of the toughest players to defend in the Horizon League.
Eichler slowly became accustomed to shooting three's during her freshman year, hitting 17 of 51 attempts. By her sophomore year she was starting every game and connected on 23 of 78 attempts from long range. Last year she finished in the top-10 in the Horizon League in field goal percentage, and connected on a career-high 27 attempts from downtown.
"I think in high school I was just very dominant driving, and that was my comfort zone," Eichler said. "Coming into college you have to be a more complete player-the person on the scouting report where they said you have to close out because she can shoot it, but you have to stay far enough away because she can drive it too."
She continued to be the anchor of Green Bay's defense last season, and it showed just how much her team needed her when she missed a home loss to Detroit on Feb. 9. Having sprained her ankle just two days prior, Eichler was forced to watch as Green Bay's program-best 40-game winning streak came to an end.
"When I first came in she was more defensive-focused, however, she's always been a threat," teammate Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario, Canada) said.
She returned for the next game just two days after the loss, and finished the year on a high note. Eichler tied her career high with 19 points in the Horizon League Championship semifinal against UIC, and put her named in the national spotlight at the NCAA Tournament. But despite a 16-point performance in the opening round against Iowa State in which she converted four attempts from long range, Eichler never received the recognition she deserved. This year, that all changed.
Eichler opened the 2012-13 season scoring in double figures the first five games, including a 17-point, eight-rebound outing in the season opener at UNI. When the Phoenix went down to Cancun for the 2012 Cancun Challenge, Eichler's career high numbers went up. In the win against Richmond on Nov. 24, Eichler shot 9-of-13 from the field, including an incredible 5-of-6 from downtown for 26 points. Her five made three's and 26 points both set new career highs, and just two days later she was named the Horizon League Player of the Week for her performance.
After just 13 games, she's already made 18 attempts from long range and leads the team with a 36.7 percentage in three-point shooting this season. She recorded her second 20-point game of her career against North Dakota State on Dec. 18, notching 20 points on 8-13 shooting. In a 61-42 win at Wichita State on Dec. 30, she connected on five of six shots and hit all three of her attempts from behind the arc, giving her 15 points.
"She's a very hard player to play against. She's physically bigger and stronger, and then on the outside she's really fast so you can't let her get by you," Lukan said. "But then you can't let her get the three point shot off, so it makes it hard for other teams to scout her."
Heading into the second Horizon League matchup against
Wright State on Saturday, Jan. 12, Eichler is exactly 100 points away from
becoming the 31st member of the Green Bay women's basketball 1,000-point club.
With 85 successful three-point attempts for her career, she's also approaching
the top-10 in three-point field goals made in Green Bay women's basketball
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