Women's Basketball Slips Past Valparaiso, 53-49
By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
VALPARAISO, Ind. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Leading by two points with just 21 seconds remaining, freshman Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) hit a big three in the corner to help ice the game for the Phoenix as it snuck past Valparaiso, 53-49, on Saturday evening at the ARC.
The win helped the Phoenix maintain the top spot in the Horizon League with two games to go, moving them to 11-3 in the conference and 18-8 overall. Valparaiso fell to 4-23 overall and 2-12 in Horizon League play.
“We were able to find baskets in the end when it mattered most,” head coach Kevin Borseth said. “We had a tough time in the paint tonight, but our deep shots came through at the right time.”
The Phoenix led by as many as 12 points (39-27) with just under 12 minutes remaining in the contest before Valpo went on a big 14-1 run to grab back the lead, 41-40, with 4:49 on the clock. Five different Crusaders scored during the streak, while the Phoenix was 0-for-5 with three turnovers.
The lead exchanged hands five times with two ties over the next two minutes, arriving at a 47-47 draw with 2:30 remaining. Green Bay took the lead for good after sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) was fouled with 2:06 on the clock, making both of her attempts.
Both teams fumbled over the next minute and a half, missing a combined three shots with a turnover apiece before Kraker sealed the win for the Phoenix, sinking a three in the corner with the shot clock winding down to put Green Bay ahead, 52-47.
Valpo missed a three on its next trip down the court, and senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) was able to pull down the rebound before being fouled where she made the back end of the pair with eight seconds remaining. The Crusaders made a layup with one second remaining but it wouldn’t factor as Green Bay squeaked out the 53-49 win.
“We fight, we are putting up opportunities but sometimes they just don’t connect,” Borseth said. “But this team has a lot of fight and we know how to maintain composure when it comes down the stretch to get the win.”
Green Bay struggled from the field in the first half but was able to open on a 6-0 run over the first seven minutes of the contest. After missing its first three attempts of the game, freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) started the scoring with a jumper in the lane before and freshman Sam Terry (Baraboo, Wis.) each added a basket. Meanwhile the defense held Valparaiso without a basket over the first 7:43 of the game, with the Crusaders finally getting on the board with a Jessica Carr jumper at 12:17.
The Phoenix led by four (10-6) with 8:35 remaining before Valparaiso went on a 10-0 run to jump out to a 16-10 lead with 4:39 on the clock. Lexi Miller put down a three, and Sharon Karungi gave the Crusaders its first lead of the game (11-10) connecting on a layup as it steadily built to the six point advantage.
A Buck three with four minutes remaining ended the Green Bay scoring drought, and the Phoenix continued to chip away at the lead, pulling to within a point on two occasions in the final minutes.
The Crusaders held on to a three point lead (20-17) with 1:29 remaining before the Green Bay closed on a 6-0 run to take a 23-20 halftime lead. Sam Zastrow (Algoma, Wis.) pulled down an offensive rebound on a missed breakaway layup for the final points of the half.hit one of two free throws before Buck put the Phoenix ahead with her second three of the contest and senior
Both teams struggled shooting in the opening stanza, with Green Bay shooting 29.4 percent (10-34) while Valpo shot 33.3 percent (7-21).
Valpo scored the first points of the second half but on the next Green Bay possession junior Megan Lukan found an open Buck beyond the arc for her third three point basket of the contest. The Crusaders responded with a three of their own on the next possession (26-25), but the Phoenix then went on a 14-1 run to take a 39-27 lead and set the stage for the late game dramatics.
Green Bay struggled from the field in the first half, shooting 29.4 percent (10-34) before rebounding to go 47.4 percent (9-19) in the second half. Despite shooting just 25.0 percent from deep (8-32) in the contest, timely threes kept the Phoenix in the game. The Phoenix owned a narrow 33-32 advantage on the boards and for just the second time this season was outscored in the paint, 24-20.
Buck lead the Phoenix with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.also finished in double digits with 12.
Valpo finished the game shooting 37.0 percent from the field (17-46) and 15.0 percent (3-20) from deep. Karungi had a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Miller and Liz Horton chipped in 10 points apiece.
“Our defense did a great job tonight and really kept us in the game when our offense struggled,” Borseth said.
The Phoenix wraps up regular season play at home next week, welcoming Oakland and Detroit.
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