28-4, 15-1 Conf

Allie LeClaire helps Green Bay topple Wright State for Horizon title

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some freshmen get nervous when called upon to launch big shots.

Not Allie LeClaire.

The 19-year-old hit four big 3-pointers, including one in overtime, to give the Green Bay women's basketball team a three-point advantage. LeClaire finished with 17 points off the bench as the top-seeded Phoenix took the overtime lead and never looked back to beat Wright State 86-77 in the Horizon League championship game Sunday.

The game marked the first time the conference title game went to overtime since 1995.

"I was comfortable," LeClaire said about hitting key shots. "I had all my teammates around me and we knew what we were doing. We wanted it so bad, so every time we can together we just talked about, `One stop at a time. One play at a time.' So, I think that really helped us being successful in the end."

Green Bay, which has made five straight appearances in the title game, is now 13-4 all-time in Horizon League championship games.

Wright State beat host Green Bay 88-69 last season in the title game to earn its first trip to the NCAA tournament.

The Green Bay players wanted to avenge last year's loss.

"It's a good feeling," said Green Bay guard Tesha Buck, who tied her career high with 24 points and added 10 rebounds and earned tournament MVP honors. "We got it. We worked hard for it."

Green Bay, which had five players score in double figures, received a great effort from its bench players. The Phoenix's four reserves went 17-for-35 from the field and scored 42 points. Sam Terry had 16 points and seven rebounds.

"It's huge," Buck said about the contributions from the bench players. "It says a lot about our players and they really knocked shots down when we needed them."

In the opening half, Abby Jump fueled a 20-4 Wright State run with back-to-back 3-pointers and it was quickly 27-15.

Green Bay (28-4) responded with a run of its own as Buck scored nine straight points during a 15-0 run.

"We did say that, `Basketball is a game of spurts.' It really is. They go a spurt, we go a spurt," Green Bay coach Kevin Borseth said. "We just felt if we stayed with what we did, which was try to keep Mingo out of that paint best we could, rebound and then ball security on the offensive end of the court and let things play out. ... In our players' minds, they were just trying to get basket for basket. It's a game of spurts. That what a big spurt for us."

Wright State (25-8) missed seven shots in a row and didn't score for a span of 6 minutes, 20 seconds. Wright State finally got its offense clicking again, outscoring Green Bay 8-4 down the stretch to take a 35-34 lead into halftime.

With the game tied at 38, Buck hit a pair of shots in the lane and Kaili Lukan drained a short jumper to give the Phoenix its biggest lead, 49-41. The Raiders weren't going to go away easily.

"This is a tough place to play, now," Wright State coach Mike Bradbury said. "I just told them, `Most people at that point that come in here, get run out, and the game's over.' We stayed together. ... It was important, it was big. I think it was our toughness that got us back in it."

Wright State came back to tie the game 63-63, LeClaire scored back-to-back baskets to make it 68-65 with 3:14 left in regulation. Mingo, who finished with 27 points, tied the game on a runner with 27.4 seconds remaining. Buck threw up a long 3-pointer at the buzzer that was off, sending it to overtime.

After LeClaire's clutch 3-pointer, Terry and Buck hit back-to-back shots to put Green Bay up 81-76 with 1:05 left. In the final minute, Green Bay, which was 46 percent from the field for the game, was 5-for-7 at the free throw line.