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Green Bay hits 35 free throws to end three-game losing streak

By Murray Gleffe

GREEN BAY — Fortunately, the Green Bay men’s basketball team was hitting its free throws.

The Phoenix built a 23-point halftime lead, hit 35-of-38 free throws overall and hung on to defeat IUPUI 79-72 in a Horizon League game Feb. 6 at the Kress Events Center.

“When we weren’t connecting on shots in the second half, it was a huge bonus to knock down free throws,” said Will Ryan, Green Bay head coach. “We were strong with the ball. I knew we shot lots, but I had no idea we shot 38 (free throws). I’m proud of the guys for stepping up and knocking them down when it got tight.”

PJ Pipes led Green Bay with 20 points and four assists.

Manny Ansong added 18 points and nine rebounds.

The Jaguars were paced by Jaylen Minnett and Marcus Burk, who had 21 and 19 points, respectively.

Helped by the Phoenix defense, IUPUI shot only 37.9 percent (25-of-66) from the field overall.

Green Bay (6-14 overall, 6-10 Horizon League) shot 40.4 percent.

The teams were whistled for a combined 44 fouls.

IUPUI (5-8, 4-8) took an early 8-7 lead behind the hot shooting of Minnett.

After the media timeout, the Phoenix went on a 23-5 run – spurred by the offensive rebounding of Ansong and sizzling shooting of Amari Davis and Pipes – over the next eight minutes to grab a 30-13 lead.

“We didn’t take too kindly to yesterday’s loss,” said Ansong. “We knew we had to come out and set the tone.”

Green Bay lost game one of the weekend series to the Jaguars, 80-71.

Near the end of the first half, the Phoenix doubled up IUPUI in rebounds and field-goal percentage.

Green Bay took its biggest lead of the half, 41-18, into intermission.

“I told them after (the Feb. 5) performance, we have to be the aggressor,” Ryan said. “We have to throw the first punch. Defensively, it was our best half of the season.”

The Phoenix appeared to be safe after Josh Jefferson connected on two free throws to keep his team in front 56-35 with 10:18 remaining in the game.

Then, in the span of a few minutes, Burk – who had two points at halftime – and Elyjah Goss got hot.

The Jaguars trimmed a 21-point lead down to 10 (63-53).

However, Japannah Kellogg III stopped IUPUI’s momentum on Green Bay’s next possession.

Kellogg got into the lane and converted a three-point play to push the lead back up.

“Japannah works tirelessly on post moves in practice,” said Ryan. “He’s good at maneuvering around in the paint trying to find angles to score. He’s starting to slow down. He’s a quick-twitch kid who’s athletic and wants to win.”

The Jaguars got no closer than five points down the stretch, as Green Bay ripped multiple free throws to ice the game.

The Phoenix will host Northern Kentucky for a two-game Horizon League homestand Feb. 12-13.

Box score:

IUPUI: 18, 54 — 72

Green Bay: 41, 38 — 79

Jaguars: Minnett 21, Burk 19, Goss 13, McClure 6, DePersia 5, Harvey 3, Seay 3, LaStrap 2

Phoenix: Pipes 20, Ansong 18, Davis 13, Jefferson 12, Kellogg III 9, Stieber 5, Kirciman 2.

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