By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - In front of a crowd of 3,505 strong, the Green Bay women's basketball team (8-2) dominated in the paint and on defense to defeat Wisconsin 53-38 Sunday evening at the Kress Center. The win marks the fourth consecutive victory for Green Bay in the series against the Badgers, improves the Phoenix to 11-18 all-time against Wisconsin and gives Green Bay a 2-0 advantage over other Division I teams in Wisconsin this season.
The Badgers opened what started as a close contest with a Morgan Paige three, but senior Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) responded with a triple of her own to tie the game. A Paige free throw gave the Badgers a one point advantage, but Green Bay went on a 7-0 run over the next five and a half minutes to push the lead to 11-4. Wisconsin responded with a 5-0 run of its own to cut the lead to two, but it was all Green Bay for the rest of the half.
The Phoenix closed the opening frame with a 16-1 run over the final 9:06 to take a 27-10 lead into the locker room. Redshirt sophomore Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) finished the first half with a game-high six points, including a spectacular no-look underhand layup through the Wisconsin defense with four minutes remaining in the half. Lukan finished the contest with eight points on 66.7 percent shooting.
"This was a great win in front of a great crowd. It's not very easy to hold someone to 10 points in a half, but our kids do a really good job of keeping people in front of them," said head coach Kevin Borseth. "I don't know if people realize how well these kids can guard. When you watch them guard one-on-one, they're really good at it."
Wisconsin came out of the break by stringing together an 11-2 run over the first 5:46 of the second half, with all 11 points scored by Paige and Jacki Gulczynski. Paige finished with a game-high 21 points, while Gulczynski had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Redshirt senior Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) broke Wisconsin's run by scoring seven consecutive points in just over a minute, sparked by an and-one free throw with 12:51 remaining. Sension led all Green Bay players with 13 points.
The Phoenix pushed the lead to as many as 19 with less than two minutes remaining, but late threes by Paige with 37 seconds and again with one second remaining cut Green Bay's lead-and the final score-to 53-38.
After scoring 46 points in the paint in a 72-37 rout of North Dakota State earlier in the week Green Bay again dominated down low, outscoring the Badgers 38-6 inside. Green Bay also scored 12 points off Wisconsin's 25 turnovers, the second highest mark the team has posted this season since forcing 26 at Marquette on Dec. 8.
"Our goal on defense was to keep them out of the paint and make them shoot outside, which helps keep us out of foul trouble. On our end we wanted to get inside, but we kept getting shots blocked," Borseth said. "Despite that, we scored 38 points in the paint-that's really good considering Wisconsin blocked and altered quite a few shots."
Senior Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds while pitching in four assists. Ritchie, the Horizon League's steals leader, also grabbed four away from the Badgers on the night. Fellow senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) scored nine points and had a game-high five steals.
The Phoenix will have a break over the holidays and
return to action on Dec. 30 at Wichita State. Green Bay holds a 1-1 record against
the Shockers, with the last meeting coming more than 10 years ago. The two
teams played during both the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, with the Phoenix
falling on the road in the first meeting and winning the second at home.
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