Postseason Props: Quilling Gives Phoenix Much-Needed Spark
Editor's Note: Throughout postseason play, Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Jill Wunrow will provide "Postseason Props" to a Phoenix player/players she feels provided a spark in Green Bay's most recent game.
NCAA TOURNAMENT, Second Round (2) Kentucky 65, (7) Green Bay 62 - It's hard to pick just one player who made a difference in what may be one of the most memorable come-backs in Green Bay women's basketball history. Though No. 7 seed Green Bay (31-2) erased a 17-point deficit against No. 2 seed Kentucky (27-6), to take a one-point (62-61) lead with 1:57 to play, the Phoenix were edged 65-62 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The final "Postseason Props" of the season has been earned by the toughest and most well-spoken player in Green Bay senior Hannah Quilling (Eau Claire, Wis.). Quilling gave the Phoenix a spark coming off the bench, playing eight minutes in the first half while scoring four points, forcing two Kentucky turnovers because of her defensive pressure while grabbing one steal.
"I told the players afterwards they can learn a lot from Hannah Quilling and the toughness that she has and ability to put the team first is something I admire," said fifth year head coach Matt Bollant. "She's the most well-spoken player I've ever coached. She truly speaks from the heart and says things the right way no matter what the situation."
Quilling played five minutes in the second half, scoring five points, including her lone three pointer with 11:25 to play, cutting Kentucky's lead to 11 (51-40). Quilling added a layup at the 9:55 mark to cut the lead to seven (51-44), part of a 13-2 run by Green Bay.
"The pressure she provided on top in our Buzz defense made our vision better and made our job easier because she was leaving it all on the floor," said Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.). "She's a big part of the reason we came back, making that huge three and showing the kind of person she is, just wanting the team to do well."
Quilling is never one to sulk because she may not be in the starting lineup, has a broken nose, broken finger or even bruised ribs. Quilling has always put the team first, no matter what the situation or role she has on the team.
"Tonight I wasn't trying to play a different role than I have all season, I fell into the role of being the spark and I think I've filled that role," said Quilling. "When I was growing up, I was always the underdog playing with the boys and my brothers always told me to fight hard. They always told me to get noticed for fighting hard and it's something I've always promised this team I'll do until the day I leave."
Quilling's toughness and spark will certainly never be forgotten by fans that had the privilege of watching her play or teammates who had to honor to play with her and learn from her example.
"I'll always remember how she led us with her intensity and her will to win," Ritchie said of her teammate. "I'm going to miss her but she left a huge impression on this program, one that our class (juniors) will definitely remember and hold close to our heart."
Only three other players have played more games than Quilling in a Green Bay uniform as the senior captain has donned a Phoenix jersey 127 games. Quilling finished second in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.5), dishing out 100 assists while committing 68 turnovers.
"This tradition is so much bigger than us, it's about the family we make and the 14 girls in this lockerroom," Quilling said. "This year's team wrote our own story when a lot of other people thought it was going to end with last year's team."
What's next for Quilling? As a Human Biology major, Quilling hopes to enter the medical field and has thoughts of PA school. But first, "I'm going to make sure I keep my eyes on the WNBA draft for Julie Wojta," Quilling said laughing.
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