By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
BURLINGTON, Vt. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay women’s basketball team handled a pesky Siena squad as it opened the first game of the TD Bank Classic with a 63-52 win over the Saints on Friday evening at Patrick Gym on the campus of the University of Vermont.
The win improved Green Bay to 3-1 overall and advanced them to the championship game of the two-day tourney. The Phoenix will face either host Vermont or North Florida tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. CST. With the loss Siena dropped to 1-2.
“We’re a young team right now and we’re still trying to learn a lot of things,” head coach Kevin Borseth said. “I was a little disappointed in the offensive effort we had today, but all in all our team came through strong in the end and we got the win.”
A streaky first half didn’t allow either team to fully capitalize on its runs to take control. Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) started a 7-0 run for the Phoenix to open the game, and Green Bay maintained the seven-point advantage until the 15:54 mark (11-4).
The Saints then used a 10-2 scoring advantage to assume its first lead of the contest, 14-13, with 12:02 remaining. A pair of Ranger free throws put the Phoenix ahead again, 15-14, and the lead exchanged hands one more time before Green Bay grabbed the lead for good on a Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) layup with 8:40 showing on the clock. The layup was the beginning of a 7-0 run over a span of 1:02 as the Phoenix jumped back out to a six-point advantage, 22-16.
Siena worked its way back into the contest, but the Phoenix held them at bay as it built up to its largest lead of the first half, 32-24, on a Sam Terry (Baraboo, Wis.) layup with 3:46 remaining. However, Siena used another run, this time a 6-2 scoring advantage over the final three minutes to pull back to within four points, 34-30, at the break.
A sloppy first half on both ends saw a combined 25 turnovers, 12 of them coming from the Phoenix. Siena was able to turn those Green Bay miscues into points, with over half of its points (16) coming on turnovers. Green Bay shot 42.9 percent (12-28) in the opening stanza, while Siena was 47.8 percent (11-23) from the field.
“We had a lot of unforced errors in the first half,” Borseth said. “But we were able to take better care of the ball in the second half and that is what proved to be the difference in the game.”
Opening the second half the Saints pulled back to within a point, 36-35, just under two minutes in. But the Phoenix responded, slowing expanding its advantage with a 12-1 run to take a 48-36 lead with 9:57 remaining. The Saints were able to cut the advantage to single digits just one more time as Green Bay held on for the 63-52 triumph.
For the game, the Phoenix shot 37.9 percent (22-58) compared to 41.5 percent (17-41) for the Saints. Green Bay responded from its high turnover total in the first half with only six, finishing the game with a total of 18. The Phoenix also led in rebounds, 34-26, assists, 16-9, and steals, 13-8.
Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) had the best all-around night for the Phoenix, finishing with nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals, with career-best totals in rebounds and steals. Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) had a game and career-high 16 points while shooting 4-for-5 from behind the arc. Ranger added eight points and a team-best eight rebounds, and Megan Lukan was the only other Phoenix in double-digit scoring with 10 points.
Siena’s Kanika Cummings has a team-high 14 points, and Clara Sole Anglada had a game-high nine rebounds.
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