By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - In a physical, gutsy effort from both sides, the No. 20/20 and top-seeded Green Bay women's basketball team (28-2, 16-0 HL) pulled away in the second half to end Detroit's season with a 71-54 win in the Horizon League Championship semifinal round. The Titans finish the year at 17-13, while Green Bay advances to host Loyola in Sunday's Championship Game at noon on ESPNU.
"Detroit fought-they fought for 40 minutes, right to the bitter end and made us work for everything we got," head coach Kevin Borseth said. "We had to make sure we contained Shareeta Brown, because her shot is almost always a guaranteed basket. Our plan was to stop her."
In the effort, redshirt sophomore Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) led the way with a game-high 19 points. With tonight's game, she's averaged 16.7 points per game in three meetings against the Titans this season. The Canadian cager also continued her red-hot shooting from downtown, connecting on three of five attempts.
"Detroit's game plan is usually to double-up in the post, so sometimes against them I end up being unguarded," Lukan said. "Some nights I get lucky, but it's great when those shots fall."
Senior standout Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) also had an impressive night with 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals. In the effort, she hit 2-6 from behind the arc, finishing with 192 triples for her career-tied for the most 3-pointers in a career in program history. She also added four steals, and now has 231 in four seasons, the ninth most on the career record list.
The Phoenix opened the game on an 8-2 run with four early points from redshirt senior Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.). However, Detroit would cut the lead to 11-10 with 14:04 remaining.
Just two minutes later, the Titans would tie the game at 13-13 and eventually take a 16-13 lead. Green Bay found itself down, but not out as Ritchie hit a layup to start a 7-2 run. The Titans had the answer though, as they tied things up at 20-20.
From there another 7-2 run to head into the half left the momentum fully on the home team's side as senior Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) drained a three with 39 seconds remaining to bring the crowd to its feet. With the help of seven steals, the Phoenix forced 12 Detroit turnovers in the first half alone.
The Titans cut Green Bay's lead to 27-25 off a triple to open the half, but less than two minutes later the Phoenix used a 9-2 run to open up a 40-30 advantage. Lukan found senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) for three at the 16:37 mark, forcing Detroit to burn a timeout.
Out of the timeout Detroit scored four unanswered points and cut the lead to just seven with 12:54 remaining. But yet again, a 9-2 run blew the game wide-open as the Phoenix took a 54-40 advantage into the under-eight minute media timeout.
The Titans came within 10 at 56-46 after three free throws from Senee Shearer, but it was as close as the Motor City team would get the rest of the way. With a crowd of more than 2,200 fans on its feet, the Phoenix used a 15-6 run to hold its largest lead at 69-51 with 30 seconds left on the clock. Detroit hit a late three from Shearer, but senior Jenny Gilbertson (Wabasha, Minn.) put the contest on ice with two late free throws.
Green Bay shot 47.7 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from downtown while holding the Titans to just 28.6 percent from long range. The Phoenix forced a remarkable 20 turnovers and capitalized with 24 points off Detroit's mistakes.
Behind Lukan's 19 points and Ritchie's 17, Bauer added 13 points on 3-4 shooting from downtown and now stands 29 points away from 1,000 for her career. Should she accomplish this feat, it would be the first time in program history three players entered the storied club in one season.
Eichler added 12 points and four assists, while Sension had six points on a perfect 3-3 from the field. Gilbertson was the lone other player to score, chipping in four points.
The Titans were led by Shearer's 17 points, while Demeisha Fambro was the only other Titan to score in double figures with 13 points.
The win improves Borseth to 25-1 all-time against Detroit, and sets the Phoenix up with a date against third-seeded Loyola in Sunday's Horizon League Championship game. The game will tip at 12:05 p.m., televised live on ESPNU. Green Bay is 4-0 in televised contests this season.
With a win on Sunday, Green Bay will receive an automatic berth into the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Barring a loss to the Ramblers, a special selection show event will be held Monday at 6 p.m. at the Kress Center.
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