By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis.
(GreenBayPhoenix.com) - With an
automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line, top-seeded No. 20/20 Green
Bay (28-2, 16-0 HL) will host third-seeded Loyola (17-14, 10-6 HL) in the
Horizon League Championship game on Sunday. The contest, scheduled to tip at
12:05 p.m., will be televised live on ESPNU with Jim Barbar handling the
play-by-play and 2000 USA women's basketball Olympic gold-medal head coach Nell
Fortner providing color analysis.
The Phoenix advanced to the final round after grinding
out a physical, gritty 71-54 victory over rival Detroit, the No. 4 seed. Green
Bay opened the game on an 8-2 run, but Detroit would battle back to eventually
take the lead midway through the opening frame. With the help of a 9-2 run halfway
through the final period, the Phoenix was able to pull away for the
Redshirt sophomore Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) led the way with 19 points on a 3-5
effort from downtown, improving her season average against Detroit to 16.7
points per game. The Canadian import has now scored 19 or more points in three
of six career meetings against the Titans.
The Phoenix also contained the Titans dominant post presence
in Shareta Brown, holding the All-Horizon League first team selection to just
nine points. The sophomore failed to score in double figures in all three
meetings this season. Green Bay also forced 20 Detroit turnovers, and
capitalized with a 24-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
LOYOLA: The Ramblers advanced to
their first-ever Horizon League Tournament championship game after shocking No.
2 seed Youngstown State 72-45 in the first semifinal game on Friday. Behind
All-Horizon League First Team selection Simone Law's 29 points, Loyola made
easy work of Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown and the Penguins.
CHICAGO EVENING: In the first meeting
this season, Green Bay fought a blizzard on the way to the Gentile Center and
fought an even stronger Loyola attack once inside the arena. Loyola gave the
Phoenix its toughest test of the 23-game winning streak, leading the visiting
team by two late in the game. With the score at 62-60 in favor of Loyola, Green
Bay scored five unanswered points to bring home the three-point win.
TURNOVERS: In the second meeting less
than two weeks ago, Green Bay defeated Loyola 63-37 at the Kress Center after
forcing an uncharacteristic 21 turnovers. After entering the game averaging
just over 11 turnovers per game, the nation's second-best mark, Green Bay's
stifling defense forced the Ramblers to tie their season-worst mark of 21
TV STARS: Sunday's game will be the fifth televised game for
Green Bay this season. In all five matchups, the Phoenix was victorious for a
perfect 5-0 record on the tube. The current 23-game winning streak kicked off
in a televised contest at Marquette.
EICHLER: With an appearance in Sunday's
championship game, senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton,
Wis.) will tie the record for most games played with 132. In the 40-year
history of women's basketball, only one other player has achieved that number.
Assuming Green Bay plays at least one game in a postseason tournament, Eichler
will graduate as the most veteran player in the program's storied history.
RITCHIE: In Friday's win against
Detroit, senior Adrian Ritchie (De
Pere, Wis.) tied the program's career 3-point field goal record with 192
triples in her career. She also moved into the top-10 in the career steals category with 231, and
has already attempted more shots from long range than any other player in
program history with 527.
AWARD-WINNING MATCHUP: Sunday's
championship game features four All-Horizon League players, led by All-Horizon
League First Teamers Adrian Ritchie and Loyola's Simone Law. Sarah Eichler is a
Second Team selection for Green Bay, while Loyola's Taylor Johnson also made
that list. Ritchie, Eichler and Law were all featured on the league's
All-Defensive team, while Johnson was named to the All-Newcomer team.
SUCCESS: Green Bay's five-member
senior class is now 9-1 in Horizon League Championship games after Friday's win
over Detroit. The class also boasts a 4-3 record in the NCAA Tournament with a
Sweet 16 appearance and two trips to the Second Round. To date, the five
seniors have helped the program achieve a remarkable 121-15 record under their
MONDAY: With a win in the
championship game, Green Bay will host a special Selection Show event on Monday
at 6 p.m. with the doors opening at 5:30 p.m. at the Kress Center as the team
awaits its seed, opponent and destination for the 2013 NCAA Tournament. If
Loyola wins on Sunday, there will not be a selection show event.
FOLLOW IT LIVE: Fans can listen live on Friday
as Bruce VandenPlas will have the call on The Fan 107.5
FM, 1400 AM and TheFan1075.com. Live stats
will also be available, and the game will be televised on ESPNU. Be sure to follow @GBPhoenixWBB and @JustinGrones on Twitter for updates throughout the game.
Also, be sure to check out Championship Central on GreenBayPhoenix.com for information
regarding tickets, brackets, highlights and more.
For the latest and most up-to-date information
on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.
Follow us on Twitter: @GBPhoenix , @GBPhoenixWBB and @JustinGrones.
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