Phoenix men squander double-digit leads in opening loss
By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay men’s basketball team lost a pair of 12-point leads in an 81-77 nonconference loss to Indiana State 81-77 Nov. 9 at the Kress Events Center on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“It was nice to have fans in the stands,” Green Bay Head Coach Will Ryan said. “We have a young, inexperienced team. At the end of the day, our inability to guard and let guys get downhill is what did us in. (Indiana State) got some point-blank layups and made their free throws at the end of the game. We’ll get better.”
Manny Ansong led the Phoenix (0-1 overall) with 19 points.
Newcomers Donovan Ivory (16), Kamari McGee (14) and Cade Meyer (8) combined to score 38 points and grab 12 rebounds.
“I think they (Ivory, McGee, Meyer) all have bright futures,” Ryan said. “They don’t look like first-year players physically. If we can get a couple of additional players to contribute moving forward, it will bode well for us.”
The Sycamores put four into double figures, paced by Cooper Neese’s 18 points.
Green Bay shot 45.5% from the floor but was outrebounded, 37-28.
The Phoenix forced Indiana State into 16 turnovers.
“It’s (the rebounding deficit) going to be worked on the next couple of days,” Ryan said. “It’s not going to get any easier moving forward. (Indiana State) was hungry to get the second-chance opportunities.”
The Phoenix started the 2021-22 season with a left-hand layup by former Green Bay Southwest High School standout Lucas Stieber and continued their offensive prowess throughout the first half.
With 12:17 remaining, Ivory brought the house down with a dunk to give Green Bay a 13-12 lead.
It was part of six lead changes to begin the game.
Offensively, the Sycamores went ice-cold from the floor for the next four minutes.
The Phoenix capitalized with three daggers from Ansong to give the home team its biggest lead of the half at 31-19.
Indiana State used its inside/out game to slowly chip away at the lead.
After Neese drained an elbow jumper, the Sycamores regained the lead at 38-36 compliments of a 19-5 spurt.
In the final minutes, Green Bay guard Mitch Listau got into the action by draining a short jumper and triple to give the Phoenix a 43-38 lead heading into intermission.
Meyer opened the second half with a power move and two-hand jam to increase Green Bay’s lead.
With a little more than 13 minutes remaining, McGee hit a three-pointer to give the Phoenix a 59-47 lead that put the Phoenix faithful on their feet.
Despite playing without its top scorer (Tyreke Key – sidelined by injury) from 2020-21, Indiana State went on another push to take a 64-63 lead with eight minutes remaining.
Down the stretch, each team answered the other with a basket.
Green Bay took its final lead of the night at 75-74 after Stieber made a nifty move around the basket.
The Sycamores answered with a 24-footer by Neese and a pair of free throws by Cameron Henry (after Ansong’s two free throw makes) to go back up 79-77 with 1:14 left.
The Phoneix had three chances in the final minute to tie or take the lead, but no shots would fall.
Kailex Stephens iced the game for Indiana State with two free throws with seconds remaining.
“This group is a tough-nosed bunch,” Ryan said. “They have a high IQ for the game and will learn from their mistakes.”
Green Bay is back in action Friday, Nov. 12, when it travels to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers.
Bo Ryan, Will’s father, will be honored by Wisconsin for his many accomplishments throughout the years.
“It’s going to be an emotional night,” Will Ryan said. “He had so many good teams on the Kohl Center floor. I think (my dad) will get a good ovation. I’m excited about the game. It’ll be fun.”
Indiana State: 38, 43 – 81
Green Bay: 43, 34 – 77