By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – A three-point basket by freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) with four minutes remaining in the first half broke a tie game, and the Green Bay women’s basketball team steadily built on its lead as it defeated St. Cloud State, 74-63, in exhibition action at the Kress Center on Saturday afternoon.
Eight of the nine players that took to the court for the Phoenix scored at least one point, led by double-doubles for seniors Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) and Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario). Ranger finished the game with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Lukan added 13 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and eight steals.
Despite being outshot by the Huskies, the Phoenix was able to capitalize on turnovers and second-chance points in the win. Green Bay forced St. Cloud State into 29 turnovers registering 35 points on the miscues, while also recording 28 second-chance points off 26 offensive rebounds.
St. Cloud State made the first basket of the game, but the Phoenix used a 7-0 run keyed by a three by Buck and two Ranger layups to grab the lead, 7-3, with 16:18 on the clock. Green Bay was able to hold on to the lead for the next three minutes before the Huskies slowly started chipping away and eventually took the lead (12-11) with 10:22 remaining in the opening half.
The lead exchanged hands twice, with the Huskies able to take a one-point lead (18-17) at the 7:09 mark before Lukan collected an offensive rebound and put up a shot to give the home team the lead back, 19-18. St. Cloud tied the game two more times but they never again led, as Buck’s aforementioned three-pointer broke a 25-25 tie with just under four minutes remaining. The Phoenix steadily built its advantage to five points (32-27), but a pesky Huskies squad scored the final four points of the half to go into intermission trailing by one point, 32-31.
A 10-3 run over the first four minutes of the second half for the Phoenix built its lead to eight points, 42-34, fueled by eight points from Ranger. The Huskies pulled back to within three points (45-42) with 13:03 remaining, but it was all the closer they would get as Green Bay went on a 9-1 run to jump out to an 11-point advantage, 54-43. Ranger started the run with a layup and after the back end of free throws for St. Cloud’s Emma Konopasek went in, Brionna Barnett (Elkhart, Ind.) and Mariah Monke (Fergus Falls, Minn.) connected on back-to-back buckets before Ranger closed the run she started with a layup-and-one conversion.
Green Bay held the Huskies at bay the rest of the way, building its advantage to as many as 15 (70-55) with three minutes remaining en route to the 74-63 exhibition win.
St. Cloud State outshot Green Bay in the contest, hitting on 42.6 percent (23-54) of its opportunities compared to 36.5 percent shooting (27-74) from the field for the Phoenix. The Huskies also outshot the Phoenix from behind the arc (7-23, 30.4%/5-30, 16.7%) and at the charity stripe (10-12, 83.3%/15-25, 60.0%). However, Green Bay led rebounding (44-43), steals (15-6) and assists (15-12).
In addition to the two seniors, two freshman reached double figures as Buck chipped in 14 points and a game-high five assists and Monke added 11 points. Rachael Moen and Lexy Petermann both finished with 11 points for the Huskies, while Kaytlin Kuefler had a team-high seven rebounds.
Green Bay plays its final exhibition game of the season next Saturday, welcoming Northern Michigan to the Kress at 1 p.m.
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