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Phoenix proves too much for Detroit

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Allie Reinikainen/Fourth Estate

Marques Eversoll, Assistant Sports Editor
March 27, 2013
Filed under Sports

With a berth in the conference tournament championship on the line, the No. 20/20 UW-Green Bay women’s basketball team rode a second-half explosion to a 71-54 victory over Detroit March 15 at the Kress Events Center.

“To their credit, Detroit fought for 40 minutes,” said head coach Kevin Borseth. “Right until the bitter end, they made us work for everything we got.”

After shooting 40 percent and leading 27-22 at halftime, the Phoenix offense picked up in the second half. The team shot 57.9 percent from the field, including 60 percent from behind the three-point arc, to outscore the Titans 44-32 in the final 20 minutes.

“It comes down to who can out-tough the other team,” said senior guard Adrian Ritchie. “We just try and move on to the next game.”

Sophomore guard Megan Lukan led Green Bay in a balanced offensive attack with 19 points. Lukan frustrated the Titans’ defense all season, averaging 16.7 points per game in three games.

“When we usually match up against Detroit, they choose not to guard me as often, and they try to double on the post,” Lukan said. “It’s nice to hit shots when they do it.”

Lukan was one of four Phoenix players to score in the double digitss. Senior guard Lydia Bauer poured in 13 points, while senior forward Sarah Eichler added 12. Ritchie, fresh off a career-high 27 points against Valparaiso, scored 17 points against Detroit.

“It feels good that we can practice a game plan and execute it as we need to,” Ritchie said. “I think our experience helped that.”

As productive as Green Bay’s offense was in the second half, the team’s defense proved to be the difference. Detroit sophomore Shareta Brown averages 20.1 points per game, but the Phoenix held her to nine on the afternoon.

“That kid inside is really a handful,” Borseth said. “We did everything we could and used as much energy as possible to keep her away from the basket.”

In 30 games this season, Brown was held to single digits just three times — Green Bay was Detroit’s opponent in all three games.

“You pretty much have to surround her with five people,” Borseth said. “She’s a major point of emphasis. Everybody in the conference was  aware of that. You have to really guard the kid.”

While the Phoenix were outrebounded by the Titans 28-22, they turned the ball over 10 times compared to Detroit’s 20. The Phoenix assisted on 15 of the team’s 21 field goals, as  Ritchie and Eichler each dished out four assists.

With the win, Green Bay punched its ticket to the Horizon League Tournament Championship against Loyola. Green Bay swept the regular-season series, narrowly escaping with a 65-62 win Feb. 7 in Chicago. The three-point win was Green Bay’s narrowest margin in conference play.

“Everyone’s in the same position,” Ritchie said. “Everyone’s tired. Everyone has bumps and bruises. We feel that we’re all on the same playing field, and we’re just trying to prepare for the next one.”

When Green Bay played Loyola the first time, the Ramblers were without their top scorer, sophomore forward Simone Law.

“She’s really good,” Borseth said. “She’s shooting 60 percent from the floor, hitting 18-footers, fade-aways, posting up hard, and they know where to find her.”

Law is one of the top scorers in the conference, averaging more than 17 points per game. But if  its performance against Brown and Detroit is any indication, the Phoenix will be up for the challenge in the title game.

“This one is a little different because it’s my last year,” Ritchie said. “It’s my last year with everyone, and that’s probably in the back of our minds, but it’s still about basketball. We just like to win.”

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