By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Less
than a week after connecting on a career-high five of six attempts from behind
the arc, senior Adrian Ritchie (De
Pere, Wis.) was red-hot again from long range as she helped lead No. 20/20
Green Bay (27-2, 16-0 HL) past eighth-seeded Valparaiso (11-20, 5-11 HL) 80-59 in
the Horizon League Championship quarterfinal round. With the win, the
top-seeded Phoenix will host rival Detroit, the No. 4 seed, in Friday's
semifinal round at 7:30 p.m.
In the effort, Ritchie scored a career-high 27 points
on 9-17 shooting. The All-Horizon League First Team member hit 7-14 from long
range, tying the Horizon League Championship single-game record for 3-point
field goals made. Her 14 attempts are also the most ever attempted in a game in
program history, breaking Megan Lukan's (Barrie,
Ontario) record of 13 set less than two weeks ago at Detroit.
"We always preach having one more pass, and I just
happened to be the one taking the shots," Ritchie said. "We have great
chemistry that we've built this season and anyone is ready to step up any
The Phoenix opened the game on a 9-0 run paced by
triples from Ritchie and fellow seniors Lydia
Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and Sarah
Eichler (Grafton, Wis.). Another
three from Ritchie pushed the lead to 12-2 less than five minutes in, but from
there the Crusaders used a 7-0 run over the next three minutes to cut the lead to
"Valparaiso kept getting a lot of open shots, so we
kept trying new things on defense," head coach Kevin Borseth said. "When we would try new things, sometimes we got
a little too impatient."
A layup in the post from Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) pushed the lead to 10 points at
23-13, but the Crusaders answered with one of just two triples for the half. Valparaiso
finished the first half just 2-12 from behind the arc for a 16.7 percent mark.
Eichler hit a three with just under three minutes
remaining in the opening frame, sparking a 7-2 run to close the half. Green Bay
took a 37-22 lead into the locker room after shooting 7-14 from long range in
the first 20 minutes. In the first half alone, Eichler tied her career high
with eight assists. By the time the night was over, the All-Horizon League
Second Team member would go on to set a new career high with 11 shares.
The Phoenix held its double-digit advantage throughout
the second half, but was unable to put together any significant runs due to a
balanced Valparaiso attack. With 5:19 remaining, Bauer found Ritchie in the
corner for three, her record-tying seventh of the game.
Redshirt junior Sam
Zastrow (Algoma, Wis.) played nine minutes in the win, tying her career
high with five points after making two from the charity stripe to push the lead
to 80-57 late in the contest. Despite a Valparaiso bucket with seven seconds
remaining, Green Bay's 21-point victory was more than enough to advance to the
Behind Ritchie's career-high 27 points, Bauer added 17
and now has 958 points for her career. Should she join the 1,000-point club
this season, it would be the first time in program history three players joined
the storied club. Eichler scored nine points to go along with her career-high
11 assists, while the Phoenix's dominant post duo of Sension and Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) scored
nine points and added seven and eight rebounds, respectively.
Valparaiso was led by All-Horizon League Second Team
member Tabitha Gerardot, who had 21 points behind just 5-17 from the field but a
perfect 10-10 from the line. Charae Richardson was the Crusaders' next highest
scorer with nine points.
With the win, Green Bay will host rival Detroit on
Friday at 7:30 p.m. In two regular season meetings, the Phoenix defeated
Detroit 62-31 at home on Jan. 8, and 71-63 in the Motor City on Feb. 28.
"Detroit is tough, very tough," Borseth said. "I told
the team after the first time we played them, what we saw against them in the
regular season won't be what we see in the tournament. Shareta Brown is a
handful, and Yar (Shayok) is tough on the boards."
The first semifinal game between No. 3 seed Loyola and
No. 2 seed Youngstown State will start at 5 p.m on Friday. The Kress Center
will also be the host site of its sixth Horizon League Championship, which will
be played at noon on Sunday.
For the latest and most up-to-date information
on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.
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