By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – In its final exhibition game of the 2013-14 season, the Green Bay women’s basketball team held off a pesky Northern Michigan squad as it topped the Wildcats, 65-53, on Saturday afternoon at the Kress Center.
A strong defensive showing aided the Phoenix in the win, forcing 23 turnovers and turning them into 23 points. Green Bay also added 10 steals and four blocks in its defensive efforts, including a game-high two blocks from freshman Mariah Monke (Fergus Falls, Minn.). Three Phoenix finished with double-digit points, led by 14 from junior Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) and 13 apiece by senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) and sophomore Ellen Edison (Maple Grove, Minn.).
It was a slow start to the game as it arrived at the second media time out with a narrow 5-3 Phoenix advantage. Both teams struggled from the field, with the Wildcats shooting 14.3 percent (1-7) compared to 9.1 percent (1-11) by the Phoenix.
Coming out of the break NMU’s Nea Makela connected on a three point shot to put the visitors ahead by one (6-5), but it was the last lead the Wildcats had in the game as a jumper by Ranger and a three from Edison put the Phoenix ahead for good, 10-6, with under 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
Leading by three points with 7:25 remaining in the first half, the Phoenix went on a 6-0 run to assume its largest lead of the first half, 22-13. Two free throws and a jumper from Ranger started a run that was capped by a steal and fast break layup from freshman Sam Terry (Baraboo, Wis.).
Green Bay was able to hold NMU at bay in the closing minutes, despite being held without a field goal in the final 3:06, to go into halftime with a 30-25 lead.
With both teams shooting under 15 percent leading to the first media break, things turned around as the Phoenix finished the opening half shooting 37.5 percent (9-24) while the Wildcats were 7-for-18 (38.9%) from the field.
NMU opened the second half connecting on an and-one to pull to within two points (30-28) but a three by freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) sparked an 8-0 run to give the home team a 10-point lead, 38-28.
Green Bay led by as many as 12 in the second half and never let the Wildcats get closer than seven points as it went on to win, 65-53.
In addition to 14 points, Lukan finished with a game-high seven rebounds and three steals. Edison led the team with three helpers.
NMU’s Alyssa Colla had a game-high 17 points, while Anna Liewen finished with a game-high seven boards.
The Phoenix opens its regular season at home for the first time in 26 seasons as it welcomes Northern Illinois to the Kress Center for a 7 p.m. contest.
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