Balanced Attack Leads Phoenix to Quarterfinal Win, 72-55
By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – In a balanced attack by the Green Bay offense, the Phoenix advanced to the semifinals of the Horizon League Women’s Basketball Tournament as it ran past Valparaiso, 72-55, in Wednesday’s quarterfinal game at the Kress Events Center.
All 12 Phoenix played in the game with 10 denting the scoring column, including four in double digits and 33 points from its reserves. It marked the eighth time this season Green Bay had 10 or more players score, as it moved its overall record to 21-8 on the season.
Junior Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) led the way with 12 points, freshman Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) added 11 while sophomore Ellen Edison (Maple Grove, Minn.) and Mariah Monke (Fergus Falls, Minn.) chipped in 10 points apiece off the bench.
The Phoenix took an early 3-2 lead three minutes into the contest, but three consecutive baskets from deep by Valparaiso’s Jessica Carr gave the visitors an 11-3 lead at the 14:15 mark. Kraker stopped the run with a feed in the lane, but the Crusaders maintained a seven-point lead (14-7) with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
That’s when the Phoenix went on an 11-0 run over three minutes to grab back the lead, 18-14, with 6:42 on the clock. Green Bay stepped up play in the paint and received a lift from its bench players with Monke and Sam Terry (Baraboo, Wis.) combining for all 11 points, including eight by Monke. She started the run with an and-1 play before Terry completed the same play on the next Phoenix trip down the court. After a pair of missed shots for both teams, Monke scored on another layup and then forced a Valparaiso turnover on the other end before transitioning to finish another and-1 play to close the run.
Green Bay grew its lead to as many as ten points (31-21) with 1:39 remaining, but the Crusaders closed on a quick 5-2 run to cut the Phoenix lead to seven points (33-26) at the break. The Phoenix was able to overcome a slow shooting start to the game as it opened just 4-for-17 before finishing 9-for-12.
Valparaiso cut the Phoenix lead to five points, 35-30, three minutes into the second half but a big 14-0 run over 6:20 put the game away for Green Bay. Five different Phoenix scored during the run, kicked off by back-to-back threes from junior Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) and Kraker. Edison then connected on consecutive jumpers before Megan Lukan hit a pair of free throws before Monke concluded the run with another layup in the paint to put the lead at 49-30.
The lead never got below 15 points the rest of the way as the Phoenix coasted to the 72-55 win.
Green Bay dominated play in the paint, outscoring the visitors 38-8 in the category while also receiving a 33-8 advantage from its reserves and a 28-11 edge in points off turnovers.
The Phoenix finished the game shooting 45.8 percent (27-59) from the field. Valpo was 38.0 percent from the field (19-50) and 44.8 percent from deep (13-29) fueled by a game-high 18 points by Carr, who finished 6-for-11 from long range.
Senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) contributed a game-best seven rebounds, while Megan Lukan totaled a game-high five assists and three steals in addition to her team-leading 12 points.
Green Bay will continue to serve as hosts for the Horizon League Tournament, next facing No. 4 UIC on Friday evening in the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m. UIC advanced with a 77-72 win over No. 5 Cleveland State this evening. Semifinal one will feature No. 2 Wright State and No. 3 Youngstown State with tip set for 5 p.m.
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