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Strong All-Around Play Lifts Phoenix Over Cleveland State, 90-72

Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics
Release: January 18, 2014
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By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)

CLEVELAND, Ohio ( —An all-around commanding performance by the Green Bay women’s basketball team got the Phoenix back on the right track as it posted one of its best offensive performances en route to a 90-72 triumph over Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center.

The Phoenix (9-7, 2-2 Horizon League) tied its highest offensive output of the season with 90 points as 10 of the 12 players that took to the court finished with at least a point, including four in double-digits. Sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) recorded her third 20+ point performance in four conference games with 23 points and also dished out a career-high eight assists.

As a team, Green Bay had 22 assists on 30 total field goals and dominated the boards, 39-19. The Phoenix finished the game shooting 54.5 percent (30-55) and rebounded from its struggles from behind the arc going 43.5 percent (10-23) for the game, including 63.6 percent (7-11) in the first half.

“It feels good for the team to find its stride offensively,” head coach Kevin Borseth said. “We came out with a lot of energy and put a lot of points on the board against a good Cleveland State team, it is just a great feeling.”

Freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) scored the first points of the game for the Phoenix, giving Green Bay a lead it wouldn’t relinquish the remainder of the game. Overcoming poor shooting that hindered the team the last two games Green Bay made five of its first six field goals as it jumped out to a nine point advantage (15-6) 5:26 into the contest. All five starters scored for the Phoenix during the run, capitalizing on play inside the paint and from behind the arc.

Leading 24-18 with 9:06 remaining in the first half, Green Bay broke the game open with a 10-0 run over the next 2:03 to jump out to a 16 point advantage (34-18). Kaili Lukan started with a fast break layup from freshman Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) before Buck connected on back-to-back threes and Taylor Thomas (Wausau, Wis.) hit a nice backdoor pass from Lukan.

Cleveland State (8-9, 3-1 Horizon League) ended the run with a three from Kiersten Green (34-21) before the Phoenix used an 8-0 run to assume its largest lead of the first half, 42-24, with 3:35 on the clock. It was again a variety of Phoenix to score during the run that featured layups by Kaili Lukan and Thomas and a three from freshman Sam Terry (Baraboo, Wis.). Green Bay maintained its double-digit advantage at the break, as it entered halftime with a 46-34 lead.

“Today we just came out with a lot more confidence and were able to work the ball inside and out,” sophomore Taylor Thomas said. “We really focused on making the extra pass and getting the ball into the post and that really sparked our offense. It was a great game and will be great to help build our confidence going forward.”

Green Bay was a hot 58.6 percent (17-29) from the field and 63.6 percent (7-11) from deep in the first 20 minutes and also dominated the boards with a 21-9 advantage. Subbing heavily, 11 of the 12 Phoenix players took to the court, with eight players denting the scoreboard as the team received 14 bench points.

“We get a lot from players when we substitute,” Borseth said. “ Like [Taylor] Thomas today, she had a great night after having worked so hard in practice lately. Being able to reward those kids who work so hard really helps the team on many levels.”

The Vikings made it interesting to start the second half, going on a 10-4 run over the opening 2:18 to get back to within six points, 50-44. However, the Phoenix settled down and got back in stride as it went on a 14-4 run during the next 5:22 to go back up by 18 points (64-46) with 12:20 remaining as it cruised to the 90-72 victory.

“This was a big win. We just needed to get back on track,” Borseth said. “When you win it can be easy, but when you lose you can learn a lot. I told the players they have to experience this to appreciate what winning is all about and today was a good game for our season.”

In addition to Kaili Lukan, senior Breannah Ranger (13), Buck (11) and Megan Lukan (14) finished with double-digit scoring. Thomas was also impressive for the Phoenix adding a career-high nine points and five rebounds, whileKraker posted a career-high seven rebounds.

Moreover, the Phoenix won the battle in the paint, 36-20, and points off turnovers, 15-13. The team also had its best free throw shooting performance of the season going 20-for-24 (83.3%) from the charity stripe.

Cleveland State was led by Imani Gordon with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Green Bay will take the week off from competition before entertaining Wright State next Saturday at the Kress Center at 1 p.m.


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