The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women's basketball team found itself in this same type of game against Loyola a few years ago.
Only this time the Phoenix won.
UWGB survived a huge scare in a 65-62 win over Loyola at the Gentile Center on Thursday night to win its 13th straight game. It was three years ago that the Phoenix came to Loyola having started the season on a 16-game winning streak, only to be upset by the Ramblers.
It almost happened again until forward Breannah Ranger helped come to the rescue.
The Phoenix (18-2 overall, 8-0) trailed 62-60 with 1 minute, 34 seconds left when the 6-foot-2 junior reserve took over. She put back an offensive rebound on a miss by Sarah Eichler to tie the game, and then gave the Phoenix the lead for good with a basket with 44 seconds remaining.
Lydia Bauer made one of two free throws to put the Phoenix up by three in the closing seconds, before Loyola missed its chance to send the game into overtime when a 3-point attempt from Ayrealle Beavers hit the back iron as time expired.
"Breannah Ranger is on an incredible run lately, and she showed that again tonight," UWGB coach Kevin Borseth said. "Her moves in the post keep getting better and she can knock them down when we need her to."
It's just that Borseth likely would prefer that it doesn't go down to the wire against a Loyola team that dropped to 7-13.
"Loyola is the best 7-13 team in Division I, and they clearly showed that tonight," he said. "They gave us everything they had and gave us a lot of problems on both ends of the ball. When we tried to keep them from getting inside, they still found a way. We need to make sure we do a better job of containing on defense."
UWGB had a tough time stopping Loyola guard Monica Albano, who was making shots even when the Phoenix had her guarded.
Albano scored a game-high 23 points and hit six 3-pointers while playing all 40 minutes. She scored 17 of her points in the second half to give Loyola a chance for the upset.
UWGB made sure not to let her get off the game-tying attempt at the end, instead forcing Beavers to hit the shot despite shooting 17.4 percent from long range.
That still is better than UWGB's 2-for-14 performance from beyond the arc, although it went 13-for-16 from the free-throw line and shot 45.5 percent (25-for-55) overall.
Senior guard Adrian Ritchie led the Phoenix with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Ranger (11 points, five rebounds) was the only other UWGB player to finish in double figures.
"This is a good team, and on their home court you could tell they had confidence," Ritchie said. "They are very well-coached, and they caught us on a little flat night for us.
"It turned out to be quite a battle."
|UWGB (18-2, 8-0 HL)|
Percentages: FG: .455, FT: .813. 3-point goals: 2-14, .143 (Ritchie 1-3, Gilbertson 1-3, Lukan 0-3, Bauer 0-4, Eichler 0-1). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 1 (Sension). Turnovers: 19 (Bauer 4, Eichler 4, Lukan 3, Zastrow 3, Sension 2, Gilbertson 2, Ritchie). Steals: 6 (Bauer 2, Sension 2, Richie, Lukan).
|LOYOLA (7-13, 2-5 HL)|
Percentages: FG: .415, FT: .769. 3-point goals: 8-21, .381 (Albano 6-14, Smith 1-1, Booker 1-2, Johnson 0-1, Skube 0-1, Beavers 0-2). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 8 (Hambric 4, Albano, Beavers, Johnson, Skube). Turnovers: 13 (Beavers 6, Albano 2, Johnson 2, Smith, Booker, Skube). Steals: 12 (Johnson 6, Skube 2, Hambric, Albano, Beavers, Booker).