By: Jill Wunrow (@JillWunrow)
CANCUN, Mexico (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Cancun Challenge lived up to its name for Green Bay (2-1) in its opening contest falling 89-86 in overtime to James Madison (2-2) at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico Thursday, Nov. 22.
"We missed opportunities and James Madison seized every one that they had," said Ritchie. "We both played a really tough game but in the end it came down to who can make plays down the stretch and that's exactly what they did."
Senior Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) posted her first career double double performance with a career-high 19 points and 10 rebounds while dishing out a career high four assists and grabbing a career high four steals. For the second consecutive game, Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) had a 20-point performance to lead the Phoenix with 26, tying her career-high.
In a game which featured 12 ties, both career performances were not enough as James Madison's Tarik Hislop led all players with 32 points to edge the Phoenix in a tough-fought overtime competition.
"When we got behind in the second half Hislop took over and while we were helping out on everyone else she continued to pull up and make bucket after bucket," Ritchie said.
With Green Bay leading 86-84 with 1:32 to play in overtime, James Madison's Kirby Burkholder drained a three pointer for the one-point advantage with 28 seconds to play. Following a Green Bay timeout, Sension missed a jumper down low, got her own rebound but could not finish the play. The Phoenix were forced to stop the clock with a foul and James Madison's pair of free throws with one second remaining handed Green Bay its first regular season loss in 10 games.
After a back-and-forth battle in the first half featuring 15 points from Ritchie, Green Bay opened the second half with an 8-2 run led by five points and two rebounds from Sension in the first four minutes.
Following a media timeout, James Madison went on a 13-2 run with seven points from Jazmon Gwathmey and six from Tarik Hislop, taking a 54-47 lead at the 11:44 mark. Sension broke Green Bay's four-and-a-half minute scoring drought with a layup underneath , cutting the Dukes' lead to five (54-49).
Trailing 58-54, Jenny Gilbertson (Wabasha, Minn.) found Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) underneath cutting to the hoop to cut the James Madison lead to two (58-56). Gilbertson dished out a career high six assists in the contest. The Dukes answered with a three but Sension made a great steal at the top of the key and found Ritchie on the fastbreak layup to cut the lead to one (61-60). After a pair of free throws from Eichler Green Bay was back in the lead (62-60), applying its Buzz defense.
With 3:56 to play, Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) drained her first three of the game from the left wing to give Green Bay the 70-66 lead, its largest of the half. Bauer added a layup to build on the Phoenix lead and after a James Madison bucket, Gilbertson had a huge put-back to make it 74-66 with less than three minutes remaining.
James Madison cut Green Bay's lead to one with a three from Burkholder with 1:50 to play. After three consecutive free throws by the Phoenix with less than 35 seconds remaining to take a 77-73 lead, Ritchie fouled Burkholder with nine seconds remaining, pulling within one (77-76) after making all free throw attempts. A pair of free throws by Ritchie gave the Phoenix the three-point edge with eight seconds remaining but a three from Hislop with four seconds left in regulations forced overtime play.
Green Bay shot 56 percent from both the field and the free throw line in the second half and 20 percent from three-point range.
FIRST HALF ACTION: Neither team led by more than two points throughout the first 13:37 of the contest until Ritchie sank a layup with to give Green Bay the 11-8 advantage, part of a 9-2 run by the Phoenix. A three pointer from the right win by Sension with 11:07 to play boosted Green Bay's lead to 16-10, its largest of the half.
James Madison went on a 9-2 run of its own to take a one-point lead (19-18) off a layup from Kirby Burkholder with 8:12 remaining in the half. Ritchie responded with her first three from the right wing to give the Phoenix the 21-19 advantage.
Precious Hall gave the Dukes a four-point lead (25-21), its largest of the half, with a layup at the five-minute mark. Ritchie responded with her second three from the right wing to cut the James Madison lead to one. Sension added her second three of the contest as part of Green Bay's 13-4 run, forcing James Madison to call a timeout.
Green Bay shot 44 percent from the field in the first half and 50 percent from three-point range with Ritchie leading all players with 15 points and Eichler and Sension each chipping in eight.
NEXT UP: Green Bay will face Missouri (2-2) in its second game of the Cancun Challenge Friday, Nov. 23 at 5 p.m. before wrapping up the three-day tournament facing Richmond (2-3) Saturday, Nov. 24 at 2:30 p.m. All games are central time and can be heard on radio dial 1400 AM in the Green Bay area.
Full season ticket and Pick 5 packages are on sale now with the Green Bay Athletics Ticket Office. For more information and to order tickets, please call 920.465.2625 or visit the athletics department offices in the Kress Events Center.
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