By: Jill Wunrow
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Senior Julie Wojta (Francis Creek, Wis.) had a record day while leading the No. 9/9 Green Bay (21-1, 11-1 HL) women's basketball team to a 64-59 win over Wright State (16-9, 9-4 HL) Saturday at the Kress Events Center. Wojta had a career-high 30 points, 20 rebounds, four blocks while matching a career-high 40 minutes of play as the Phoenix began a new winning streak.
"We felt the weight of the loss Thursday but we just kept telling our team to enjoy the fight," said head coach Matt Bollant. "It was a great day to have Special Olympics here and see how much they just enjoy playing basketball with the smiles on their faces, and that's what it's all about."
Wojta also set Kress Center records in rebounds and steals (8) while tying the blocks record.
"Julie's will to win today was incredible and she was not going to let us fail and I felt she put the team on her back and carried us," Bollant said of Julie's performance. "That's one of the most spectacular games I've ever seen a player play, it was really special to see."
"It was fun today. Coming off of Thursday we wanted to keep our spirits high and remind everyone we're still a good basketball team," Wojta said of her performance. "Going undefeated wasn't our goal so we just kept our minds right and we just happy to be playing again and had a fun time doing so."
At the 17:21 mark in the opening half, Wright State's Molly Fox hit a layup down low for the 4-2 lead. After a pair of free throws from Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) to tie it up, Ritchie drained a three from the right wing, giving the Phoenix the 7-4 advantage.
With 13:46 to play in the first half, junior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) returned to action after missing Green Bay's recent game against Detroit due to an ankle sprain suffered in practice earlier in the week.
"It was good to see her play tonight, she's such a tough player and we're better defensively with her on the court," Bollant said.
Green Bay took the 15-14 lead off a layup from Shaunda Sandifer with 9:34 to play in the opening half before Wojta scored the next 11 points which included two three pointers. Following a three from the Raiders' KC Elkins to cut Green Bay's lead to two (25-23) with 6:17 on the clock, the Phoenix went on a 9-0 run, building its lead to as many as 11 with 3:16 to play in the first half.
Wright State closed the half with a 6-0 run to make it a five-point game at the half (39-24), in favor of the Phoenix.
Wojta was dominant in the first half, leading all players with 17 points and six rebounds, including two three pointers. As a team, Green Bay shot 39 percent from the field, going 13-for-33 while shooting 27 percent from three-point range going 5-for-18. There were three lead changes in the opening half of play as the Phoenix converted 10 points in the paint and scored 17 off Wright State's 11 turnovers.
Wright State outscored Green Bay 6-5 in the opening five minutes of the second half before Eichler drained a three from the left corner to boost the Phoenix lead to 42-35. The Raiders Courtney Boyd sank a three from the left wing, making it a four-point game (44-40) before Wojta answered with her third three of the contest following a Raiders' timeout.
With 11:47 remaining, Wojta had a huge block, erupting the 3,447 fans in attendance with cheers before converting a jumper on the offensive end to boost the Phoenix lead to nine (52-43).
Bauer sank her lone three of the contest with 7:48 to play, giving Green Bay the 10-point advantage (55-45) with 7:48 remaining. Two possessions later, Wojta grabbed the ball from Wright State, made an acrobatic pass to Ritchie who finished with a saving pass to Bauer for the layup.
Wojta grabbed another steal with 5:33 to play and found Lukan for the layup and its largest lead of the contest, a 12-point advantage (59-47). The Raiders came as close as eight with 1:06 to play following a layup from Fox who led the Raiders with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
In the final half, Wojta had a double double performance with 13 points and 14 rebounds while grabbing five steals. The senior captain finished the game shooting 11-of-20 from the field and 3-for-5 from three point range.
As a team, Green Bay finished the contest shooting 34 percent from the field (23-67) and 25 percent from three point range (8-31). Lukan scored in double figures for the Phoenix chipping in 12 points while playing a career-high 38 minutes.
ON DECK... Green Bay will hit the road next week as it travels to Cleveland State (9-14, 4-8 HL) Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. CT. The Phoenix wraps up its road trip Saturday, Feb. 18 as it battles Youngstown State (10-13, 4-8 HL) at 1:05 p.m. CT. Green Bay will play its final homestand Thursday, Feb. 23 as it hosts Valparaiso at 7 p.m. before wrapping up with Butler in its annual PinkZone game, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m.
Single-game tickets for both men's and women's basketball programs are currently on sale with the Green Bay ticket office. For more information, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com/tickets.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.