By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Youngstown State women’s basketball team was able to capitalize on big second half runs as it earned a season sweep of the Phoenix with a 72-63 win over Green Bay on Sunday afternoon at the Kress Center.
The win moved the Penguins even with the Phoenix atop the Horizon League standings at 9-3 while they improved to 13-12 overall. With the loss the Phoenix fell to 16-8 overall and was swept by a conference opponent for the first time since Milwaukee did it in the 2005-06 season. It also snapped an eight game winning streak for Green Bay.
The game also marked Green Bay’s annual PinkZone game, as the team was able to raise $14,569.46 from the generosity of its fans. Donated monies will benefit the St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center’s Compassionate Care Fund, Harlan Humanitarian Fund and Childlife program in the Prevea Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department. Thanks to the fans and our sponsors Broadway Automotive and Prevea Health for their contributions leading up to and during the game.
Timely runs by the Penguins run in the second half proved to be the difference in the contest. A 9-0 Penguins spurt to start the second half put them ahead 40-34 just under four minutes in. Green Bay recorded four turnovers and two missed shots in its first six possessions of the half, while Youngstown State made back-to-back threes in addition to a layup and free throw during the span.
Green Bay followed with an 8-2 run to tie the game at 42-42 with 13:51 remaining. Two layups apiece from sophomore Kaili Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) and senior Breannah Ranger (Skokie, Ill.) brought the score even for the ninth time in the game.
However, a 7-0 from Youngstown State put the visitors up for good as Melissa Thompson put up back-to-back layups and Jenna Hirsch capped it with a basket from long range to put Youngstown’s lead at seven points (49-42) with 10:26 remaining. Green Bay got to within a point (49-48) with just over eight minutes remaining and stayed within three points (57-54) with 4:23 to go. But another timely run by the Penguins, this time a 9-0, gave the visitors a 12-point lead (66-54) and they held on to win, 72-63.
It was a tense first half that featured seven ties and six lead changes. Trailing 12-14 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the first half, the Phoenix went on a 9-0 run to jump out to a 21-14 lead at the 10:11 mark. Freshman Tesha Buck (Red Wing, Minn.) tied the game with a step-back jumper and classmate Mehryn Kraker (West Allis, Wis.) put Green Bay ahead with a three from the corner. Junior Megan Lukan (Barrie, Ontario) and freshman Mariah Monke (Fergus Falls, Minn.) closed the run with jumpers in the paint.
However, Youngstown State got back into the game with a run of its own, 11-4, to tie the game for the fifth time in the first half at 25-all with 5:21 remaining. Both teams traded baskets in the final minutes before Kraker hit a big three from deep in the corner to give the Phoenix a 34-31 lead at the break.
Despite the loss, Green Bay was able to control points in the paint, 32-20, and also had a 25-8 edge in bench points, posting 24 or more points from its reserves for the fourth-consecutive contest. Four Phoenix finished in double-digit scoring, led by 13 apiece from Kaili Lukan and freshman Sam Terry (Baraboo, Wis.), 12 by Ranger and 11 from Buck. Terry was also strong on the boards with a team-best six rebounds, while Megan Lukan had a game-high seven assists.
Youngstown State outrebounded Green Bay, 42-30, and narrowly edge the Phoenix in shooting going 43.4 percent (23-53) from the field compared to 43.3 percent (26-60). Heidi Schlegel recorded her 1,000th career point in the early going and finished with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds.
The Phoenix returns to action on Thursday, traveling to Wright State.
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