Flames fall to No. 1 Green Bay; postseason play possible
In front of a crowd of over 1,500, the fourth-seeded UIC women’s basketball team (22-9) suffered a 68-59 defeat against No. 1 seed Green Bay (22-8) in the semifinal round of the Horizon League Tournament Friday night.
While the NCAA Tournament is out of reach, the Flames are a strong candidate for postseason play. UIC’s postseason fate will be determined Monday.
In the contest at Green Bay’s Kress Center, UIC led by seven late in the first half but a 20-5 run by the Phoenix was too much to overcome. The Phoenix advance to the championship final and play No. 2 seed Wright State Sunday at noon in a game aired on ESPNU.
UIC owns the nation’s second largest turnaround with 13 more victories than the 2012-13 season. The Flames set the program record with 22 wins and tied the program record with 11 straight victories from Nov. 15 to Jan. 3.
Senior Rachel Story scored a team-high 20 points to lead three Flames in double-figures. Senior Emily Kobel (12 points) and sophomore Terri Bender (10) points also reached double digits.
“We battled and lost a tough game tonight,” said head coach Regina Miller.
“We played well the first 17 minutes of the game but our starters got tired and we relinquished the lead. We did not shoot the ball very well in the second half but I am proud of how we stayed in the game. We ultimately just ran out of gas.”
Green Bay outscored UIC 42-12 in the paint, close shots that helped the Phoenix shoot 53.1 percent from the floor. After converting 45.8 percent of their attempts in the first half, the Flames were held to 30 percent shooting in the second half.
The Phoenix forced 17 UIC turnovers and scored 14 points off the Flames’ miscues. Green Bay recorded 19 assists on 26 made field goals.
UIC out-rebounded Green Bay 37-31 and lost for just the fourth time this season when winning the battle on the boards. The Flames had 15 offensive rebounds and 16 second-chance points.
UIC started strong and held its largest lead of the contest at 25-18 with 4:53 left in the first half. Green Bay scored the next 11 points before Bender’s three-pointer ended the run.
Katie Hannemann’s free throws with 1:02 on the clock trimmed the Green Bay lead to 31-30. But Horizon League Freshman of the Year Tesha Buck converted a three-point play with one second before the halftime buzzer to give the Phoenix a 34-30 lead at the break.
Green Bay made two quick layups out of halftime to go up eight early in the second half. The Phoenix advantage stayed at eight until Emily Kobel’s fourth three-pointer of the contest made it 55-50 with 3:56 remaining. Megan and Kaili Lukan combined for the next five points and Buck’s three-pointer with 1:27 on the clock gave Green Bay its largest lead of the game at 63-52.
Story picked up her 14th 20-point game of the season and the 25th of her two-year UIC career. With 991 points, she needs nine more to become the 20th member of UIC’s 1,000-Point Club. Story played all 40 minutes, grabbed seven rebounds and collected two steals.
Kobel sank 4-of-9 three-point attempts, including three straight to start the game. She has made 144 three-pointers at UIC and ranks sixth in program history. Overall, UIC made 8-of-21 attempts from beyond the arc.
Bender was 2-of-2 from downtown and finished 3-of-6 from the field. She has been in double-figures in five out of the last six games. Bender also picked up one steal; her 87 steals are third most in a single-season at UIC.
Sophomore Ruvanna Campbell had 14 boards for her 13th straight double-digit rebounding effort. She scored nine points, including seven in the second half. Campbell is averaging 15.8 rebounds over the last four contests.
Hannemann contributed eight points and set a career high with four steals. She was 3-of-4 from the field and has converted 59.4 percent of her field goals over the last three games.