Green Bay women win home opener with big second half
By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY — Four days after getting beat by 21 points, the Green Bay women’s basketball team flipped the switch in their home opener, defeating North Dakota State University (NDSU) in a non-conference game Nov. 13 at the Kress Events Center, 71-54.
“We were aggressive in every aspect of the game,” Green Bay Head Coach Kevin Borseth said. “It’s how we need to play. I don’t know if (my players) got the message from themselves after the last game. We played with lots of energy and showed what we’re capable of.”
Meghan Pingel led the Phoenix with 22 points and nine assists.
Brooklyn Blackburn and Sydney Levy had 11 and eight points, respectively.
The Bison were paced by Heaven Hamling’s 20 points.
Ryan Cobbins was the only other NDSU player in double figures with 10.
Green Bay (1-1 overall) went 24-of-57 from the floor (42.1%).
The Phoenix grabbed 36 rebounds — 15 of them offensive.
“I know (my girls) did a great job on the glass,” Borseth said. “Don’t ask me where it came from. We’ve been literally telling them in practice. ‘We have to go after offensive boards.’ It was refreshing to watch. We ran our race to win.”
The Bison hit a pair of three-pointers to start the game.
Jasmine Kondrakiewicz made her 2021-22 season debut, entering the game three minutes in.
She grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the putback to get Green Bay off and running.
“(Kondrakiewicz is) aggressive and assertive,” Borseth said. “She’s all arms and hands right now. When she starts to move her feet, she’ll be lots better. With her injury, she’s only practiced one day. She was cleared for the game (Nov. 13).”
NDSU built its lead with the hot shooting of Hamling and Hopkins to go up 19-14 after the first quarter.
A slew of missed layups hurt the Phoenix midway through the second quarter.
However, Green Bay slowly closed the gap on the Bison.
Levy drilled a 16-footer and followed that up with a corner three to cut the margin to 28-27 with 2:18 left until half.
With less than 30 seconds remaining, Callie Genke connected on a left-handed hook shot.
Pingel then added a free throw to give Green Bay a 33-32 lead at intermission, despite hitting only 7-of-14 free throws in the first 20 minutes.
Whatever the message was at halftime about missing point-blank shots, the Phoenix players responded.
They opened the second half on a 13-3 run to increase their lead to 46-35.
The catalyst behind the surge was Pingel, who dished out assists, canned jumpers and made critical free throws when the rest of the team was struggling.
“In practice, (scoring) is what I’m asked to do,” Pingel said. “My teammates opened the floor up for me today.”
Meanwhile, Green Bay also took care of business on defense.
It held NDSU to a pair of third-quarter field goals in building a six-point lead heading into the final quarter.
“I didn’t realize they (only) had two baskets in the third quarter,” Borseth said. “We were aggressive and alert on the defensive end of the court. We did a great job closing the lane out and getting hands on the shooters. There was a high sense of urgency.”
The Phoenix put the game away in the opening minutes of the final quarter, going on a 14-3 spurt to go up 64-47, with five different players scoring during the run.
Green Bay led by as many as 19 points, closing the game out to a roaring ovation of the 1,778 Phoenix faithful.
Green Bay is back in action Thursday, Nov. 18, when it opens Horizon League play against Northern Kentucky on Fleet Farm Military Appreciation Night.
“This is God’s honest truth — I had no idea who we were playing Thursday until it was mentioned right now,” Borseth said. “I don’t look ahead. (Northern Kentucky) is good. This is the third or fourth year these players have played in their system. I felt they were the best team in our league last season.”
North Dakota State: 19, 13, 12, 10 — 54
Green Bay: 14, 19, 17, 21 — 71