GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The No. 11 Green Bay (16-0, 6-0 HL) women's basketball team celebrated its 36th consecutive regular season victory with a 75-50 win over Youngstown State (8-9, 2-4 HL) Thursday at the Kress Events Center. Green Bay's 16-0 start ties the best start in program history, both coming under fifth year head coach Matt Bollant.
"We didn't feel great about coming away with who we were tonight, mainly because I feel like we didn't do a good job guarding the dribble," Bollant said. "However we did win by 25 points but we're not about the score, we're about trying to get better."
Junior Lydia Bauer (Lake Zurich, Ill.) led the Phoenix with 19 points while Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) scored in double figures for the third consecutive game, pouring in 17 points. Senior Julie Wojta (Francis Creek, Wis.) was held to 12 points, tying her season low, but still posted her ninth double double of the season while grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
"Believe it or not, Julie is not going to make every shot she takes so as a team we need to be able to balance out the scoring," Ritchie said. "One of the reasons Green Bay has always been so successful is because of our balance and that's something we've been working on."
Bauer scored the first five points of the game, including a three from left corner in opening possession while the Penguins' defense forced Green Bay to turn the ball over three times in the first 90 seconds.
At the 15:57 mark, YSU cut the Phoenix lead to three (7-4) with a three from Monica Touvelle from the right corner. The Penguins came as close as three again with 14:14 to play in the opening half when Kenya Middlebrooks hit a jumper to cut the Phoenix lead to 9-6.
Wojta sparked a 12-2 run for Green Bay with a layup at the 13:57 mark. Quilling added a three from the left wing as Wojta and Ritchie combined for the other nine points throughout the four minute stretch. The Penguins' stopped the Phoenix run with a three from Kelsea Fickiesen, cutting Green Bay's lead to 10 with 9:52 to play in the opening half.
The Phoenix led by as many as 16 twice in the first half. With 6:08 remaining, Bauer found Ritchie for a three to make it 32-16 before Hannah Quilling (Eau Claire, Wis.) closed the half with a pair of free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining.
Green Bay led 36-20 at the break while scoring 18 points off Youngstown State's 15 turnovers. Meanwhile the Penguins were unable to capitalize on Green Bay's nine turnovers in the opening half. The Phoenix was outrebounded 15-12 in the first half with Brandi Brown leading the way with six boards. Ritchie paced all players with 11 points as Bauer and Wojta each chipped in nine.
YSU opened the second half with an 8-3 run with Ritchie sinking a three for the Phoenix as the shot clock expired, boosting Green Bay's lead to 15 (39-24).
"I thought the three Adrian sank when the shot clock expired gave us some of our momentum back," said Bollant. "It's great to see her with more confidence, wanting the ball in her hands and knocking down shots for us."
The Penguins came as close as 11 (41-30) in the opening minutes of the second half thanks to a layup from Fickiesen, forcing a Green Bay timeout. The Phoenix regrouped and came out of the timeout starting a 10-2 run which included a three from both Bauer and Ritchie.
"Lydia and Adrian can both shoot the ball so well and that makes it tough for opponents to guard this team," Bollant said of Bauer and Ritchie's combined 36 points. "Last year's team was good but this year I feel like we have more weapons with the improvements made by this junior class."
Bauer was fouled on a three-point attempt with 8:50 to play, fueling a 17-3 run for Green Bay with Bauer sinking all three free throw attempts. With 3:34 remaining, Sam Zastrow (Algoma, Wis.) checked into the game and drained a three, giving Green Bay its largest lead of the contest with a 30-point margin.
Green Bay finished the game shooting 49 percent from the field, scoring 33 of its 75 points off Youngstown State's season-high 28 turnovers. Known for her tough defensive play, Quilling chipped in eight points, including two three pointers in the Phoenix win.
Preseason Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown led all players with 21 points and 10 rebounds, scoring 13 points in the second half going 5-for-5 from the field.
ON DECK... Green Bay will wrap up its short stay at home as it hosts Cleveland State (7-9, 2-3 HL) Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Kress Events Center. The Phoenix will hit the road Thursday, Jan. 26 as it travels to Butler (6-10, 2-3 HL) to battle the Bulldogs at 6 p.m. CT before making a stop at Valparaiso (5-11, 1-4 HL) Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1:35 p.m.