By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY — The Green Bay women’s basketball team couldn’t hold onto a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter, as the De Paul Blue Demons wore the Phoenix down and captured a 76-65 non-conference victory at the Kress Events Center Dec. 7.
Frankie Wurtz led Green Bay with 25 points, and Caitlyn Hibner chipped in eight points before leaving the game in the second half with an undisclosed injury.
“Offensive rebounds hurt us in the fourth quarter,” said Green Bay head coach Kevin Borseth. “Caitlyn going down hurt as well. You can only endure so much. Injuries have been crucial, and this latest one in-game was tough in the second half.”
The Blue Demons, who converted 33 points off turnovers, were paced by Lexi Held’s 21 points.
The Phoenix (5-4) shot 51 percent from the floor, but 22 turnovers did them in.
De Paul attempted 72 shots for the game, compared to Green Bay’s 49.
The Phoenix jumped out to a 10-3 lead after Wurtz jacked a triple from the right wing.
The Blue Demons, who entered the contest averaging 88.3 points per game, started 1-of-14 from the floor.
Near the end of the first quarter, De Paul ramped up its full court pressure and turned Phoenix turnovers into points, cutting the Green Bay lead to 12-11 after one quarter.
De Paul (7-1) rode its momentum into the second quarter, going on an 11-4 spurt to take a 20-16 lead with 5:13 left until halftime.
During the run, the Phoenix were unable to cross half court at times and looked frustrated with the relentless De Paul pressure.
Anna Dier, Hibner and Madison Wolf each took turns breaking the pressure and eventually turned those fast break opportunities into points.
The Phoenix closed the half on a 13-4 run, much of it created by Wurtz.
Despite putting up only 27 first-half shots, Green Bay shot 52 percent compared to De Paul’s 25 percent.
Wurtz and Lyndsey Robson each had a basket to start the second half, and after Anna Brecht got into the scoring column with a deep three-pointer, Green Bay built its biggest lead of the game at 49-36 behind an energized crowd of 2,023.
After a Blue Demons’ timeout, things began to unravel slowly for the Phoenix.
First, Robson got into foul trouble, then Hibner exited with her injury.
Amidst it all, De Paul turned up its defensive heat in the corners of the backcourt.
Triple-upon-triple reigned down from the visitors, and by the start of the fourth quarter, the Blue Demons grabbed 55-53 lead and never relinquished it the rest of the game.
“They wanted to speed us up, so they could shoot threes, which they are really good at doing,” added Borseth.
Down the stretch, Green Bay was able to cut the margin to one possession at 64-61 after Mackenzie Wolf made two free throws, but De Paul’s Held stuck a contested three to pull away.
“We can’t make excuses,” said Wurtz. “I played point guard in high school, and I believe in whomever is on the court. Our culture won’t change. I will take whatever role is given me.”
De Paul: 11, 14, 25, 26—76
Green Bay: 12, 22, 19, 12—65
Blue Demons: Held 21, Morris 17, Campbell 10, Stonewall 10, Daninger 6, Bekelja 5, Dallmann 5, Rimmer 2.
Phoenix: Wurtz 25, Hibner 8, Murphy 7, Robson 6, Mack Wolf 6, Dier 4, Gallasov 4, Brecht 3, Mad. Wolf 2.