CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - For the sixth consecutive season the Green Bay (1-0) women's basketball team tipped off regular season play with a win, holding off a late charge to defeat UNI (0-1) in its 2012-13 opener at the McLeod Center Saturday, Nov. 10 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The win also marks the eighth consecutive regular season win for the Phoenix.
"UNI is a great team and they're going to win a lot of games this year," said Green Bay head coach Kevin Borseth who improves to 5-5 in regular season openers leading the Phoenix. "It really came down to a half-court game in the end and we had to fight tough to hold on for the win."
With 14:51 to play, the Panthers went on an 11-2 run to cut Green Bay's lead to one (40-39) with 11:18 to play after a three from Brooke Browne. Senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton, Wis.) gave the Phoenix a three-point advantage with a layup with 10:53 to play.
"I love layups, if you can give me one I'll take it," said Eichler who tied a game-high 17 points while grabbing a career and team-high eight rebounds and tying a career-high five steals.
Later in the contest, UNI hit back-to-back three pointers from Jacqui Kalin to take its first lead of the game with 8:46 remaining, making it 45-42 in favor of the Panthers.
With six consecutive free throws, Green Bay took a 48-45 advantage with just under six minutes to play before Jess McDowell drained a three from the left corner to tie the contest at 48. Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) answered with one of her team-high three three pointers from the right side, giving the Phoenix the 51-48 lead and after a UNI basket, drained another three before UNI responded with their 10th three of the contest, cutting the Phoenix lead to one (54-53) with 3:01 to play.
Neither team led by more than four points the final 12:08 of the contest. With 53.1 seconds to play, Green Bay called a timeout to set up a side out-of-bounds play but the shot clock expired on the Phoenix as Lydia Bauer's (Lake Zurich, Ill.) three pointer did not count. UNI got the ball back but Green Bay came up with a big defensive rebound.
"I thought our defense really came to play, especially in the possessions down the stretch where we didn't even let them get a shot off," Borseth said.
Lukan missed a pair of free throws with 5.9 seconds remaining, giving the Panthers one last possession. Green Bay set up its full-court pressure and one last desperation shot from UNI's Brittni Donaldson bounced in and out as the Phoenix held on for the 54-53 win.
In addition to Eichler's 17, classmates Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) and Stephanie Sension (Hopkins, Minn.) each added 16 and 13 points respectively as Green Bay finished the contest shooting 39 percent from the field.
"To come out and play like we did against a team like Northern Iowa on their home court was a great start for us," Sension said. "I'm going to continue to come out and play hard for my teammates every game with them pushing me to help this team continue to win."
FIRST HALF PLAY: Adrian Ritchie scored Green Bay's first basket of the 2012-13 regular season with a three pointer from the right wing and the early Phoenix lead. The game remained without a basket for the next four minutes until UNI scored a layup to put the Panthers on the board.
Green Bay later went on a 10-0 run midway through the first half while its defense forced four turnovers including two consecutive shot clock violations in the nearly three minute span. UNI ended its scoring drought with a layup from Jen Keitel to cut Green Bay's lead to 22- 13 with 6:07 to play in the first half.
Sension scored eight of her first-half-high 12 points in the final 6:07, including four in the final 49 seconds. Eichler chipped in 10 points with her aggressive play to help guide the Phoenix to a 31-22 halftime lead. Both Eichler and Sension led Green Bay with three rebounds each.
As a team, Green Bay shot 52 percent from the field (13-25) and 66 percent from the free throw line (4-6) in the opening half of play.
NEXT UP: Green Bay will host Central Michigan in its home opener Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Kress Events Center. Prior to tip-off, Green Bay Athletics will unveil banners honoring the team's success in 2011-12 postseason play.