The 20th-ranked Green Bay Phoenix used a stifling defense to defeat the Loyola (Ill.) Ramblers 54-38 in the finals of the Horizon League Tournament on March 17.
Sarah Eichler and Adrian Ritchie combined for 31 points, including 22 in the first half, to lead Green Bay (29-2). The pair combined to shoot 13-of-26 from the field and 5-of-14 from beyond the three-point line. They also grabbed 16 boards and doled out six assists collectively.
Eichler finished the game as the Phoenix’s leading scorer with 16 points. She also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists. Ritchie had 15 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Breannah Ranger also reached double figures for Green Bay (29-2) as she tallied 12 points and collected six caroms.
After both teams struggled to score in the first five minutes of the game, Green Bay used a 11-2 run over the next 2:58 to take a 15-6 lead with 12:03 remaining in the half. The Phoenix, who never trailed in the contest, ended the half on an 11-4 run to push their lead to 17 points (34-17).
Both teams got off to a sluggish start after halftime as the teams combined for just eight points in the first eight minutes of the second stanza. The Phoenix shot 2-of-18 from the floor and the Ramblers were 2-of-9 from the field during this eight minute stretch.
With both teams struggling from the field, Loyola was able to close the deficit to 11 points with 9:18 remaining though that was as close as they were able to get.
On the very next possession, Eichler knocked down a three-pointer and the Phoenix rolled the rest of the way.
Green Bay shot 50 percent (15-of-30) from the floor in the first half but was 8-of-34 in the second half. The Phoenix also connected on only 5-of-28 shots from beyond the arc and attempted just five free throws.
Defensively, Green Bay was magnificent as they held Loyola to 29.8 percent shooting (14-of-47) for the game. The Phoenix defense also forced 15 turnovers and permitted the Ramblers just eight offensive rebounds. Green Bay converted the 15 Loyola turnovers into 12 points.
The Phoenix will take their 24-game winning streak in the NCAA Tournament, where they are projected to be seeded seventh. Green Bay has now won three straight Horizon League Tournament crowns and will be making their fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Simone Law led Loyola with 12 points and 14 rebounds. The double-double was Law’s ninth of the season.
Loyola finishes the season with a 17-15 record.
Other game news:
- The Phoenix finished the season 19-0 against Horizon League foes.
- Ritchie, who is Green Bay’s all-time leading three-point shooter, was named the tournament’s MVP.
- Green Bay’s defense took four offensive charges in the first half