By: Jill Wunrow (@JillWunrow)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The old saying, "good things come to those who wait" could not be more true for Green Bay women's basketball redshirt senior Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.), who has earned a spot in this season's starting lineup, and is proving she belongs in that role.
With consistent improvement throughout her career, this season Sension has the opportunity to showcase her abilities from the tipoff of the game.
Saturday, Nov. 10, Sension made her first collegiate start at Northern Iowa. Though a senior on the team, Sension had butterflies like a freshman putting on a Phoenix uniform for the first time.
"Oh my gosh I was shaking and so excited," said Sension when she awaited the introduction of the starting lineups. "This has been my dream since I was a little girl, to be able to start for a team, and it's an awesome opportunity that I'm so thankful for."
Though it was her first start, Sension has proved all along throughout her career what she is capable of doing for the Phoenix.
During Sension's collegiate debut at North Dakota Nov. 13, 2009, the freshman scored 10 points, going 5-for-9 from the field. In the NCAA Tournament during the same season, Sension scored a jump shot at the buzzer to end the first half of Green Bay's second round game against No. 4 seed Iowa State to boost the Phoenix lead to 34-29.
As a sophomore during the NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal game against Baylor in 2011, Sension drew a charge against All-American Brittney Griner while scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds in seven minutes of play.
After closing exhibition play with a 20-point performance during her junior campaign, Sension celebrated her 22nd birthday Feb. 23 by scoring 12 points, 10 in the second half, in 16 minutes of play against Valpo. Less than one week later the 6-foot-3 forward scored 14 points, including two three-pointers, in 16 minutes of play on the road at Loyola. Sension once again closed her season with strong performances in the NCAA Tournament. In the first round against Iowa State, Sension went 4-for-4 from the field, finishing with eight points in 13 minutes followed by five rebounds in eight minutes in the second round against No. 2 seed Kentucky.
This season Sension is once again off to a solid start for Green Bay, averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest while leading the team in field goal percentage (.579) through two contests.
"Stephanie has really remarkable feet for a big kid; it's absolutely amazing her ability to cover a point guard right in front of her," said Green Bay head coach Kevin Borseth. "I'm just amazed at that."
Though Sension is not expected to fill the void of Green Bay's first WNBA Draft pick Julie Wojta, Sension is expected to step up fast into her role.
"She has to grow a lot and we need her to feel comfortable when she's in the game in putting her close to the basket but she also understands the grand scheme of things if we need her to play on the outside," Borseth said. "In my opinion Stephanie's biggest strength is guarding the ball, she's tall and has the ability to be able to see like a guard."
Sension obviously plays a bigger role with the Phoenix this season than in years past, and a major key to her success this season is confidence from her coaches and teammates along with her missions trip this summer to Prague, Czech Republic in which she and other teammates shared their faith while competing against professional teams.
"My experience changed my life. Basketball is very important to me and it's a way for me to share my beliefs and my faith with others," Sension said. "Most people think you can't do that with sports but you really can."
Sension has certainly helped fill a big void for the Phoenix, carrying Green Bay in the first half of its regular season opener at UNI leading all players with 12 points before finishing the game with 13 points while playing a career-high 33 minutes in addition to grabbing six rebounds. In Green Bay's most recent game against Central Michigan, Sension tied a career-high seven rebounds while pouring in 14 points in the home opener.
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