By Kevin Sweeney
The Phoenix are dancing.
After last season’s heartbreaking loss in the Horizon League Championship Game, expectations weren’t all that high for this year’s Green Bay team. After all, they had lost 2-time Horizon League Player of the Year Keifer Sykes. Green Bay was picked 6th in the preseason. However, the Phoenix proved the doubters wrong all year, culminating in 4 wins in 4 days to earn an spot in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“Nobody said we could do this. Nobody. They doubted us.” Senior forward Jordan Fouse said.
Fouse, one of the players who returned from last year’s team, led all scorers with 16 points. Fouse raised his game this year to help offset the loss of Sykes, increasing his scoring average by nearly 5 points.
After an improbable overtime win over Valparaiso last night, the Phoenix entered tonight’s contest confident and raring to go. They quickly raced out to a double digit lead and never looked back, as they never trailed after 6-4 in the opening minutes. Wright State was able to trim the deficit to 5 at one point in the half, but the Phoenix responded, closing the half on a 12-5 run to take a 12 point lead into halftime.
Wright State needed to make the first run of the second half, but couldn’t get anything going. The deficit hovered around 12 for the opening stages of the second half, but Green Bay started to pull away, extending their lead to 19 on a dunk by Charles Cooper with 9:46 to go. The Raiders began to wake up, making a quick push to cut their deficit back to 13. However, in the final 8 minutes of the ballgame, the Phoenix kept Wright State from gaining too much momentum, maintaining the double digit lead the rest of the way.
The loss for Wright State is now their 3rd Championship game loss in the past 4 years. Senior forward JT Yoho had a tough game in his final chance to reach the NCAA Tournament. Yoho, the team’s leading scorer, put up just 8 points on just 2/17 from the field.
Green Bay will wait to see who they draw in the NCAA Tournament. The Phoenix have the offensive firepower to shock some people next weekend. Wright State likely isn’t done, as they should hold appeal to postseason tournaments such as the CBI, CIT, and Vegas 16.