DALLAS, Texas (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - It was the most historic season in the history of Green Bay women's basketball, and it ended with the Phoenix playing the way it had all season. Aggressive. With Pride. With Heart.
That left head coach Matt Bollant extremely pleased with his team, especially with two seniors that combined for 47 points in the final game of their accomplished careers.
Kayla Tetschlag (Sheboygan, Wis.) scored 27 points and Celeste Hoewisch (Hortonville, Wis.) added 20 points for No. 13/11 Green Bay (34-2), but top-seeded Baylor (34-2) used a career-high 40 points from Brittney Griner and ended the Phoenix season with an 86-76 win at the American Airlines Center Sunday evening in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
"We talk about walking away with a sense of achievement and a sense of pride, and to see what Kayla and Celeste did tonight, they can leave knowing they did that," said Bollant."
Green Bay's season ends with a school-record 34 wins, Horizon League regular season and tournament championships, two NCAA Tournament wins and the program's first appearance in the Sweet 16.
Tetschlag and Hoewisch had two of the better games of their standout careers on the biggest stage, in front of the biggest crowd, and against the third-ranked team in the country, but Hoewisch was left still wanting more.
"You always want more, and that is the type of players that we are, and I think that is what got us to where we are, having that hunger and desire to win," said an emotional Hoewisch, who played in her school-record 132nd game tonight. "It is hard, but I am so proud of this team and what we have accomplished. You go into college not knowing what to expect. I was a part of a great team, something way bigger than myself, and it is something I will never forget."
After the teams traded buckets in the opening minute, Baylor rattled off the next 12 points to take a 14-2 lead just three minutes and 24 seconds into the contest.
Green Bay still trailed 31-17 with 6:46 left in the first half but responded with a 13-4 run capped by a Tetschlag layup and a Hoewisch three-pointer that made it 34-30 with 2:36 to play before halftime.
Another layup from Tetschlag made it 40-34 with four seconds remaining before halftime, but Baylor freshman Odyssey Sims banked in a three-pointer from 40 feet at the buzzer to give the Bears a 43-34 lead at the break.
Tetschlag had 17 points in the first half to lead all scorers while Hoewisch added eight points. Griner had 13 points at the break to go with three blocks.
Sophomore Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) scored five points during a 7-2 run that cut the lead to 49-46 with 16:20 left in the game. The Phoenix then had four-straight possessions to cut into that lead but were held by Baylor's defense.
"We have that mentality as players. We are going to play our butts off as players," said Hoewisch. "We did not really talk about that much as players, but we really didn't have to. These girls are fighters, and I wouldn't want to take the floor with anyone else. We were right there, and we could taste it."
After a Griner three-point play, Hoewisch drilled a three from the left wing to again cut the deficit to three points. Getting eight points from Sims and six points from Griner, the highly-ranked Bears scored the next 14 points to turn the three-point lead to a 66-49 lead with 9:55 to play. The Phoenix outscored Baylor 27-20 the rest of the way, but got no closer than the final margin.
Griner scored her 40 points on 15-of-21 shooting from the field and a perfect a 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. Sims finished with 18 points, four assists and three steals.
"[Griner] is the best player in women's basketball, and she showed it tonight," said Bollant. "It was more her than our defense, and we didn't have an answer for her."
Hoewisch (1,425 points) and Tetschlag (1,372 points) finish their careers with a combined 2,797 points in 260 combined games. The duo, combined with fellow senior Heather Golden (De Pere, Wis.), were a part of 117 wins and only 17 losses in their Phoenix careers.
While those in Green Bay have long understood how good the seniors and the Phoenix program are, Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey showed her high praise following the hard-fought battle.
"Sometimes we fail to give credit to the opponent. Green Bay has two pretty good seniors on their team, and one of them has the ball in her hands quite a bit," said Mulkey.
"When you play a team like Green Bay, they can expose you because we are big and they are not. They have post players that can come out and guard the three, they penetrate, they set screens, they take charges. All of those things that you wish you had on your team. Those kids do whatever is necessary to compete. They had lost one basketball game. They are ranked 11th and 13th in the country. That is a good basketball team. The thing that is so impressive to me is that they did not quit. They made it a 10-point game. They have to feel good about themselves. They never quit playing, and I respect that very much."
Despite being disappointed by the loss, Bollant was equally impressed with the way his team competed."Our kids showed a lot of heart. If you would have told me before the game that we would have 21 offensive rebounds and were even on the glass, I would say we would beat Baylor tonight. Unfortunately that did not happen. Give our kids credit, they can walk away with their heads held high. I asked them before the game to go out and show the nation what you are about, and they did that. The Green Bay way."