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Ritchie soars with Phoenix

Quinn Cretton, Sports Writer
December 12, 2012
Filed under Sports

When Adrian Ritchie first arrived at the UW-Green Bay campus, she looked to be the next in a long line of players from Northeast Wisconsin to have some success for the program.

Four years later, Ritchie has surpassed a mark 29 players have reached for the Phoenix women’s basketball team.

Ritchie, a De Pere graduate, came to the Phoenix after being named Miss Basketball by the Wisconsin State Basketball Coaches Association during her senior year with the Redbirds.

In that season, Ritchie averaged more than 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game, leading De Pere to the Fox River Classic Conference title as the Redbirds advanced to the WIAA Division 1 semifinals.

“She was the next kid,” Phoenix head coach Kevin Borseth said of Ritchie, who he saw early in her time with De Pere. “We were very in tune with that. We knew she was the next kid in line and we knew she was very good.”

Despite joining the Phoenix following a decorated prep career, Ritchie started her playing career at UWGB coming off the bench. She scored 12 points in her first career game against North Dakota in 2009.

For the remainder of her freshman season, Ritchie continued to act as UWGB’s top scorer off the bench, averaging 6.2 points per game while playing in all 33 of the team’s contests.

In her first career NCAA tournament appearance, Ritchie scored 14 points as the Phoenix became the highest seed in the 2010 tournament to advance to the second round, knocking off Virginia 69-67.

Ritchie entered her sophomore year as a member of the starting five, making her first career start against George Washington in the season-opening Best Buy Classic and scoring a career-high 24 points in the contest.

Throughout her second season with the team, Ritchie struggled through a number of injuries, including a sprained ankle and  sprained MCL, which limited her minutes throughout conference play.

Ritchie saved arguably her best performance of the season for the NCAA tournament.

With an opportunity to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, Ritchie scored a game-high 20 points as the Phoenix upended Michigan State 65-56.

“In big games, the stakes are higher and it’s fun to go to battle with this team,” Ritchie told reporters following the Michigan State game. “We always say our go-to player is our open player, and certain nights that’s me and certain nights it’s not. It’s just the way our program is cultured and the way we put our teammates first.”

Entering her junior season, expectations were high as Ritchie was named to writer Graham Hays’ top Mid-Major players to watch list while entering the second year as an unquestioned starter.

Ritchie did not disappoint, finishing seventh in the Horizon League in field-goal percentage while ranking second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game on her way to being named second-team All-Horizon League.

Ritchie began her fourth and final season with the program as the team’s leading returning scorer, 96 points away from 1,000 for her career.

“Adrian is a very confident person and that is so important to our team,” senior forward Stephanie Sension told reporters after Green Bay’s 64-52 win against Indianapolis. “She is definitely someone we are going to look at to help us be successful.

Following the quickest start of her career, which has seen her lead the team in points through UWGB’s first seven games, Ritchie entered the game seven points shy of 1,000.

After struggling early in the game against Indianapolis, Ritchie managed to put together a few possessions before hitting a 3-pointer from the wing to give her 1,002 points, making her the 30th player in Phoenix women’s basketball history to join the 1,000 club.

“It’s cool to be included in this club,” Ritchie said after the game. “It was something I hoped I could do some day. It’s definitely not what it’s all about, but it’s a nice bonus.”

For Borseth, the accomplishment does not come as much of a surprise.

“We’ve had a lot of 1,000 point scorers at this university and I think that speaks well for the program,” Borseth said. “Adrian works hard. I don’t know of a player that works harder. Surpassing 1,000 points has to be gratifying.”