By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – A young Green Bay women’s basketball team came together on Friday night, producing a 78-44 win over Northern Illinois in its first season opener at home in over 26 seasons.
A big 29-1 run over the final 10 minutes of the first half sealed the win for the Phoenix, while the team also saw numerous personal records set in the game. All 11 players that took to the court had at least one point, led by a career and game-high 13 from freshman Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.). Senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) recorded her first double-double of the season, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The lead exchanged hands seven times over the first 10 minutes, arriving at a 14-14 tie with 10:41 remaining in the opening stanza. A three by Ellen Edison (Maple Grove, Minn.) broke the tie, spurring an 11-0 run by Green Bay covering a span of 4:16. A Huskies free throw ended the scoreless run for NIU, but it was the only points the team had in the closing minutes as the Phoenix tacked on 18 more points to take a 43-15 advantage into the break.
NIU was held without a field goal for the final 11:02 of the opening half and shot just 24.0 percent (6-25). On the opposite bench, Green Bay shot an impressive 51.6 percent (16-31) from the floor including 41.7 percent (5-12) from behind the arc. The Phoenix exercised its scoring options inside and out using 20 points in the paint and 15 from three.
The Huskies were able to break their streak without a basket 25 seconds into the second half, but couldn’t generate enough offense to overcome a dominate Phoenix offense in the paint. Green Bay finished the game with 44 points in the paint, with 24 of those coming in the second half.
Green Bay also continued its trend from the preseason of capitalizing on its opponent’s miscues, this time turning 18 NIU turnovers into 17 points and 13 offensive rebounds into 20 second chance points. The Phoenix also took advantage of its bench, receiving 30 points from its reserves.
Sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontairo) was impressive in her first game back after a season-ending injury suffered last year, registering eight points, three rebounds and a team-high two steals. Classmates Taylor Thomas (Wausau, Wis.) and Edison also finished with career highs, as Thomas chipped in six points and Edison nine.
In addition to Kraker, the other four freshman on the floor for the Phoenix all recorded their first points in a Green Bay uniform. Sam Terry (Baraboo, Wis.) finished with eight points, and all eight came in a span of 2:05 in the closing minutes of the second half.
As a team, Green Bay finished the night shooting 50.9 percent (29-57) while the Huskies went just 30.6 percent (15-49). The Phoenix also led in rebounding, 41-31, and assists, 21-11, while NIU led steals, 9-5.
Green Bay next takes to the court on Friday, traveling to face St. Bonaventure at 6 p.m.
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