By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The quarterfinal round of the 2012-13 Horizon League Tournament will kick off Wednesday night at the Kress Center as the top-seeded No. 20/20 Green Bay women's basketball team (26-2 overall, 16-0 HL) will host No. 8 seed Valparaiso (11-19 overall, 5-11 HL) at 7 p.m.
The Phoenix wrapped up its fifth unbeaten conference slate in program history with an 80-56 win at Milwaukee on Saturday. In the win, seniors Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) had the hot hands from downtown, as they hit 6-9 and 5-6, respectively, from behind the arc. Bauer's six triples tied her career high, while Ritchie's five were the most she's made in a single game of her career. Ritchie finished with 19 points, while Bauer had a game-high 22.
In recognition of Ritchie's performance from downtown against the Panthers and against Loyola just two days prior, she was named the Horizon League Player of the Week on Monday. In two games last week, the De Pere native averaged 18.0 points per game and went 9-12 from long range.
Just two hours after winning Player of the Week honors, it was announced Ritchie had also been named to the All-Horizon League First Team. She joined fellow senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) on the list as Eichler was named to the All-Horizon League Second Team. Both senior standouts were also named to the league's All-Defensive Team.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: With a perfect 16-0 mark in conference play, Green Bay earned the top spot in the 2013 Horizon League Tournament bracket and the right to host the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed play-in game. Valparaiso entered this year's tournament as the No. 8 seed, defeating ninth-seeded UIC 67-57 on Monday night.
SCOUTING VALPARAISO: The Crusaders jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead over UIC after a low-scoring, back-and-forth affair in the early stages of Monday's contest. With multiple UIC players in foul trouble, including post threat and All-Horizon League Second Team member Katie Hannemann, Valparaiso was able to hold on for the double-digit victory. Prior to Monday's game, the Crusaders shocked Detroit with a 73-53 home win. In the effort, Gina Lange led the way to victory with a game-high 20 points.
BATTLING VALPARAISO, ROUND ONE: In the first meeting this season, Ritchie led Green Bay with a near triple-double as the Phoenix picked up a 78-55 win on Jan. 26 in the Hoosier State. Despite the 23-point victory, the Crusaders became the first team in nine straight matchups to score more than 50 points against Green Bay.
ROUND TWO, THE SEASON SWEEP: The Phoenix completed the regular-season sweep of Valparaiso with an 80-38 victory in the annual PinkZone game on Feb. 23. Redshirt sophomore Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) had a career day in the victory, finishing with a career-high 22 points and a 4-8 effort from long range. Prior to the contest, Lukan had not made a three since the first meeting with the Crusaders nearly a month prior.
LAST YEAR'S TOURNAMENT OPENER: In last year's Horizon League Tournament, the Phoenix opened the postseason with a 77-53 victory over the Crusaders, led by then-senior Julie Wojta who recorded 17 points and six steals. Green Bay forced 26 Valparaiso turnovers in the win and held an incredible 45-4 advantage in points scored off turnovers.
LET'S GO DOWNTOWN: In Saturday's win over Milwaukee, Green Bay shot an impressive 12-20 from long range, good for 60.0 percent. Led by Bauer's 6-9 performance and Ritchie's 5-6 mark, fellow senior Jenny Gilbertson (Wabasha, Minn) also added a triple of her own. During the last four games, the Phoenix hast shot nearly 45 percent from behind the arc.
EICHLER ASSISTS: Sarah Eichler only scored three points at Milwaukee on Saturday, but the senior forward has been an assisting machine over the past nine games. After turning in a six-assist effort against the Panthers, she improved her average over that span to 5.7 shares per game. Overall Eichler averages nearly 3.3 assists per game, good for a top-10 ranking in the Horizon League.
FOLLOW IT LIVE: Fans can listen live on Saturday as Bruce VandenPlas will have the call on The Fan 107.5 FM, 1400 AM and TheFan1075.com. Live stats and live video on the Horizon League Network will also be available. Be sure to follow @GBPhoenixWBB and @JustinGrones on Twitter for updates throughout the game.
COME SUPPORT THE PHOENIX: Tickets are on sale in advance of Wednesday's
quarterfinal matchup against the Crusaders. For more information and tickets to
Wednesday's quarterfinal round and all other rounds, click here.
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