Notebook: Post Play Pushes Phoenix to the Edge of the Polls
By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Right on the edge of cracking the Top-25, the Green Bay women's basketball team will head to Chicago to face Loyola on Thursday as the 26th-best team in the nation. After receiving votes for the last two weeks in both polls, the RV/RV Phoenix (17-2, 7-0 HL) is the top team receiving votes in both the AP Top-25 poll and the USA Today Coaches poll. The dominating post play of both Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) and Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) has played a major factor in this and the team's 12-game winning streak.
After spending her first three years as a reserve player, Sension has shined in her senior season as a regular starter averaging 11.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. She recorded her first career double-double on Nov. 22 against James Madison with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and notched her second on Saturday in a 99-53 win against UIC with 12 points and 10 boards. Averaging 24.1 minutes per game, she's connecting on 49.7 percent of her shots-good for the fifth-best mark in the Horizon League.
After appearing in 18 games as a freshman in 2009-10, Ranger redshirted the 2010-11 campaign before returning for the 2011-12 season. In her first two seasons combined, she averaged just 1.9 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. This year, the Skokie, Ill. native has seen her confidence level grow and her percentages and averages skyrocket. Ranger is averaging 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game on an incredible 57.8 percent from the floor, the Horizon League's second-best percentage. She's scored in double figures six times this season, including the last three games.
In Saturday's win over UIC, Ranger set a career high with 16 points on nearly 78 percent shooting after tying her then-career high of 14 on Jan. 28 at Wright State. In the home win against Wright State, she recorded her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Sension and Ranger score a combined 18.4 points per game on 53.8 shooting, and offer a seamless transition when either player subs in or out.
"Not many teams can say they have two post players who are so interchangeable and talented, usually a team has a lot of strong play from its guards," senior Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) said. "Steph has gotten extremely talented with her post moves, and anything you throw to Breannah in the post, she has the ability to go up and get it no matter how many people are guarding her."
The Phoenix will look for continued success from its down-low duo in Thursday's game at Loyola. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. with the game carried live on the Horizon League Network.
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