By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - After trailing for nearly eight minutes in the middle of the first half, the Green Bay women's basketball team (14-2, 4-0 HL) bounced back to defeat Youngstown State (11-5, 1-2 HL) 59-41 in the final game of a weekend road trip to Ohio. The win marks the 12th time in 16 games this season Green Bay's nationally second-best scoring defense has held an opponent under 50 points.
"We had a good team effort tonight and played much better in the second half than we did in the first," head coach Kevin Borseth said. "We were able to have a lot of different people step up and contribute tonight, and that will certainly help us if we can continue to get that kind of production down the stretch."
Senior Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) scored Green Bay's first six points of the game, helping the Phoenix take an early 6-3 lead. However, Youngstown State used three straight three's to build a 12-8 lead. The Penguins would lead for the next eight minutes before redshirt junior Sam Zastrow (Algoma, Wis.) found a cutting senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) for the basket and an 18-17 lead with 6:17 remaining in the half.
With redshirt sophomore Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) in foul trouble Zastrow played a season-high 18 minutes, finishing with three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
"Sam played a lot of minutes tonight with Megan (Lukan) in foul trouble, and she had a solid game on both ends of the court with those assists and steals," Borseth said.
The Phoenix held Youngstown State scoreless for the final 4:53 of the first half, and held possession of the ball in the final seconds with a 21-19 lead. As the buzzer sounded, senior Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) drilled a three from 26 feet out, putting Green Bay up 24-19 at the break. Bauer finished with a game-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including a perfect 2-for-2 from behind the arc while tying a career-high with two blocks.
Green Bay extended the lead to seven points at 28-21 off an Eichler floater with 17:06 remaining, but two straight triples from the Penguins cut the lead to 28-27. The one-point deficit was as close as Youngstown State would get for the remainder of the game, as it was all Green Bay from there.
Redshirt senior Jenny Gilbertson (Wabasha, Minn.) came off the bench and hit three of four attempts from behind the arc in the half, putting the Phoenix up 44-33 with 11:12 remaining. Her last triple sparked a 13-4 Green Bay run over the next nine and a half minutes, putting the Phoenix up by as many as 20 points.
"Jenny played extremely well, coming off the bench and hitting three three's is pretty impressive and we needed that spark," Borseth said.
The win was the ninth straight for Green Bay, and the 12th time in 16 games this season an opponent has failed to reach 50 points. Green Bay contained a Horizon League Preseason First-Team selection well below their average for the fourth straight game, holding Youngstown State's Brandi Brown, who entered the game averaging nearly 21 points per game, to just 10 points on 4-12 shooting and 0-5 from downtown.
Sension finished behind Bauer with 12 points on 6-9 shooting, while senior Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) and Gilbertson added nine points. Eichler and redshirt junior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) both added six points.
will be back in action for the second half of its four-game stretch on the road
as it travels to Valparaiso next Saturday. Green Bay will then close the road
trip with a battle at Wright State on Monday, Jan. 28. The Phoenix defeated
Wright State 71-44 at the Kress Center on Jan. 12.
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