Women's Basketball Opens Conference Play with 66-50 Win over UIC
By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – A big 23-7 run over the final 12:54 and 20-point performances by sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) and freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) aided the Green Bay women’s basketball team as it opened Horizon League action with a 66-50 triumph over UIC on Wednesday evening at the Kress Center.
Kaili Lukan finished with a career-high 22 points while Buck added a career-high 20, becoming the second and third Phoenix to finish with a 20+ point performance this season. Lukan scored 14 of her 22 points in the first half, while Buck had 17 of her 20 in the second stanza.
The win improved the Phoenix to 8-5 overall and 1-0 in the Horizon League. It also kept Green Bay perfect in conference openers since it joined, and maintained a clean 33-0 all-time record against UIC at home. The Flames moved to 11-3 overall and 0-1 in the Horizon League.
Tied at 29-29 at halftime, UIC came out of intermission and assumed its largest lead of the contest (34-30) just two minutes in. However, Green Bay kept the game close as it tied the score at 34-34 before the lead exchanged hands four times with three ties eventually arriving at a 43-43 draw.
That’s when the Phoenix took control, ending the contest with a commanding 23-7 run for the final 66-50 margin. Junior Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) scored the first four points for the Phoenix during the run, sinking a layup and two free throws on consecutive possessions. UIC scored its next trip down the floor, but freshman Mariah Monke (Fergus Falls, Minn.) and Buck combined to score the next eight points for the Phoenix as it led 55-45 with 9:06 remaining.
The lead remained at double-digits the rest of the way, as Green Bay led by as many as 16 points down the stretch en route to the 66-50 win.
It was all Phoenix in the early going of the game as Kaili Lukan started the scoring putting down a pair of free throws before connecting on a fast break layup to give Green Bay an early 4-0 lead. UIC’s Rachel Story got the Flames on the board with a jumper, but an 11-0 run by Green Bay over the next 3:37 gave the Phoenix its largest lead of the contest, 15-2, with 15:22 on the clock.
The Phoenix opened the contest shooting 5-for-7 (.714), but then hit a cold streak missing its next five shots as UIC slowly worked its way back into the game with a 10-0 run to pull to within three points (15-12) at the 11:35 mark. Kaili Lukan broke the scoreless streak for the Phoenix with a layup, but the Flames continued to chip away at the Green Bay advantage with another run. This time UIC used an 11-5 streak over a span of 4:12 to assume its first lead of the contest, 23-22, with 7:02 remaining.
It was a battle over the final minutes of the contest as neither team led by more than three points before the game arrived at a 29-29 tie going into halftime. A sloppy first half saw a combined 18 turnovers while the Phoenix led points off turnovers, 8-7. Both teams shot over 40 percent in the opening 20 minutes, as UIC was 13-for-29 (44.8%) and Green Bay was 11-for-27 (40.7%).
Green Bay finished the game shooting 45.5 percent (25-55) from the field while holding the Flames to 36.4 percent (20-55), including just 26.9 percent (7-26) in the second half. There was also an advantage getting to the free throw line as the Phoenix made 16 trips (12-16) compared to just eight for the Flames (6-8). The Phoenix led rebounding 39-31, points in the paint 34-24, and points off turnovers 19-15.
Megan Lukan finished with a team-high nine rebounds and five steals in addition to nine points.
UIC was led by Ruvanna Campbell and Katie Hannemann with 12 points, and Rachel Story added 11. Hannemann finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Phoenix wraps up a three-game homestand this Saturday as it welcomes Milwaukee to the Kress Center for a 1 p.m. affair.