By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
DETROIT, Mich. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The #21/23 Green Bay women's basketball team passed a tough test in the Motor City with a 71-63 victory over Detroit on Thursday night. Paced by a second-straight career outing by reigning Horizon League Co-Player of the Week redshirt sophomore Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario), the Phoenix improved to 23-2 overall and 13-0 in the Horizon League. More importantly, the win granted the Phoenix the Horizon League regular season championship outright after claiming at least a share of it last week. Detroit dropped to 14-11 and 7-6 in conference play with the loss.
In the win, the Phoenix shot 15-36 from long range, good for a 41.7 percent mark. The team's 15 makes tied for the second-most in a single game in program history, while 36 attempts tied for third. After going 0-5 from long range in the first half, Lukan went 6-8 in half number two for a 6-13 outing. Her six makes tied for third in program history, while her 13 attempts were the most a Green Bay women's basketball player has ever attempted in a game.
"The difference tonight was that Detroit's Shareeta Brown made us shoot outside. When they stick her down low it's extremely hard to penetrate," head coach Kevin Borseth said. "We had to resort to shooting a lot of three's tonight, but we still hit better than 40 percent. When you shoot more than 30 from back there and better than 40 percent go in, that's pretty impressive and we'll certainly take it."
Green Bay never trailed in the first half, jumping out to a 6-0 lead to start the game after the first of four three's on the night from Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) and a three-point play from Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.). The Phoenix extended the lead to 9-2 before a 7-0 run from the Titans gave the game its only tie of the opening frame.
Eichler hit the first of four combined three's in a row to extend the lead to 15-9 before redshirt senior Jenny Gilbertson (Wabasha, Minn.) capped off a 9-0 run with a triple of her own at the 11:37 mark.
Sension completed another three-point play to put the Phoenix up 24-16, but Detroit closed the first half on an 11-4 run over the final five minutes to leave Green Bay with a slim 28-27 lead at the break.
After her ice-cold first half from downtown, Lukan got Green Bay on the board first in the second half with a three for a 31-27 lead. Detroit's Shareeta Brown scored her sixth of eight points on the night in the lane, knotting things at 31-31 shortly after.
Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) scored the next five points for the Phoenix with a three and a steal leading to a layup, but the Titans' Senee Shearer, who led the home team with 15 points, tied things up at 36-36 on a three with 15:34 remaining.
Another Lukan triple with 9:59 remaining put Green Bay up 44-42, sparking a run of a combined five-straight three's. A triple from Detroit's Rosanna Reynolds as the shot clock expired gave the Titans their first lead of the game at 45-44 with just over nine minutes to play.
Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) had the answer with the next three, putting Green Bay back on top 47-45. The lead was short-lived, however, as Destiny Lavita-Stephens put the home team back in charge at 48-47. From there, it was the Megan Lukan show.
Lukan hit consecutive three's to extend the lead to 53-48 with 7:25 remaining as part of an 11-0 run. Sension took a feed inside and shot around Brown in the post to give Green Bay a 10-point advantage with a 58-48 lead at the 5:50 mark. After Detroit broke up the run, Lukan hit two more three's to grant the visitors a 64-52 edge with 4:24 to play.
"Megan Lukan has been incredible these past two games after starting the season a little slow when it comes to shooting," Borseth said. "Her confidence has gotten a lot better and she isn't hesitating like she had been when she would get an open look.
The Titans wouldn't go away easy, as the host team used a 10-2 run over a three-and-a-half minute stretch to come within four points with just over a minute to play. However, a layup and two late free throws from Sension were enough to put the game on ice after three ties and six lead changes in the second half alone.
Green Bay was paced by Lukan's 20 points, just two shy of her career high. Before the Valparaiso game on Feb. 23, Lukan had hit just six of 34 attempts from behind the arc but in the last two games alone, she's hit 10-21 for a 47.6 mark. Sension added 14 points and five rebounds, while Eichler had 12 points on a perfect 4-4 from downtown and a game-high six assists. Bauer added nine points on three three's, and Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
Behind Shearer's 15 points, Yar Shayok was the only other Detroit player to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points. The Titans shot 46.7 percent from the field and hit seven of 20 attempts from long range, good for a 35.0 percent mark.
The win snapped Detroit's 15-game home winning streak dating back to last season, making Green Bay the only remaining Horizon League team with a perfect home record this season. The loss for Detroit was also the first since its home floor was named after former Detroit men's basketball head coach Dick Vitale this past December.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: Green Bay will leave the Motor City for the Windy City, taking on UIC in Chicago on Saturday. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. with the game carried live on the Horizon League network. In the first meeting this season, Green Bay tied the sixth-best mark for points in a game with a 99-53 extinguishing of the Flames. The Phoenix also broke the 27-year-old record for assists in a game after recording 34 shares.
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