By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay women’s basketball team built an early lead over St. Bonaventure, but a hot-shooting second half helped propel the Bonnies to a 68-62 win over the Phoenix on Friday evening at the Reilly Center.
The Bonnies shot 58.3 percent (14-24) in the second half, improving to 2-1 on the early season. Comparatively, the Phoenix shot a steady 37.5 percent (21-56) in the game while being handed its first loss in its first road game of the season.
“It was a good effort by St. Bonaventure,” head coach Kevin Borseth said. “Both teams needed to make adjustments in the game and they were able to make them and get back in the game while we were unable to make those changes.”
A streaky first half saw the Phoenix jump out to a 16 point lead (26-10) with 8:36 remaining before St. Bonaventure closed with a run of its own to pull back to within four points, 31-27, at halftime.
Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) netted the first points of the game with a three and Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) followed as the Phoenix took an opening 5-0 lead. Green Bay steadily built its lead to 7-5 with 16:39 remaining before going on a 9-1 run to jump out to a 16-6 advantage at the under 12 timeout. Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) totaled five points in the run, while Mariah Monke (Fergus Falls, Minn.) chipped in four.
The Phoenix took its largest lead of the game at 16 points (26-10) with 8:36 remaining, but the Bonnies responded down the stretch, closing the half on a 17-5 run to pull to within four points, 31-27, at intermission.
SBU had just six field goals in the first half, with over half of its points coming at the charity stripe (14) after the Phoenix committed 15 fouls. Green Bay finished the half shooting 37.5 percent (12-32) compared to 33.3 percent (6-18) from the the Bonnies.
“We had a nice lead but got into foul trouble in the first half and saw a lot of girls on the bench because of it,” Borseth said. “That really helped them [St. Bonaventure] get back in the game, going to the line 21 times.”
Hot shooting gave the hosts the advantage it needed in the second half. Chelsea Bowker opened the stanza for the Bonnies with a three point shot to get them to within one, 31-30. A pair of Kraker free throws and a Kaili Lukan layup put the Phoenix lead back at five (35-30), but an 8-0 run gave the Bonnies a 38-36 lead and forced Green Bay to call a timeout with 15:18 remaining.
St. Bonaventure steadily built on its advantage, leading by as many as 15 (60-45) with six minutes remaining.
Green Bay made things interesting down the stretch. Holding the Bonnies without a field goal the final six minutes, the Phoenix chipped away at the lead and pulled to within four points (60-56) on a three by Buck with just over two minutes remaining. However, the Phoenix couldn’t pull any closer as the Bonnies went 8-for-11 from the line to close the game for the final 68-62 margin.
“We had good shots in the second half, but we just couldn’t get into a rhythm,” said Borseth.
St. Bonaventure finished the game shooting 47.6 percent (20-42) from the field, while the Phoenix went 37.5 percent (21-56). Green Bay forced the Bonnies into 17 turnovers, turning those miscues into 14 points, while only committing seven itself.
Kaili Lukan finished with a team and career-high 13 points, while Buck and Megan Lukan finished with 11 apiece. Kraker had a team-high six rebounds and three assists.
SBU’s Gabrielle Richmond had a game-high 17 points, and Hannah Little added a game-best 10 boards.
The Phoenix returns to action on Sunday, facing Duquesne at 1:00 p.m.
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