The Phoenix have finally done it. Following a 15-point loss to IUPUI on Thursday, Green Bay rebounded and knocked off the first-place Panthers 80-79 in a back-and-forth game that went into overtime, ending their 14-game losing streak. Despite entering the game as 17 point underdogs, the Phoenix knocked down some huge clutch shots to stun Milwaukee.
Randy Tucker led the way for Green Bay, scoring a D1 career high 20 points, including four makes from distance. Brock Heffner’s performance was crucial as well, scoring 17 points and playing 35 minutes off the bench. Green Bay only had nine players dressed for the game, and starting forwards Cade Meyer and Clarence Cummings III were often in foul trouble. BJ Freeman led Milwaukee in scoring with 26 points.
The biggest star of the night for Green Bay was guard Davin Ziegler. His 18 points were one shy of his career high. He also chipped in with two steals, six rebounds, and six assists to just two turnovers. Finally, he made the two biggest shots of Green Bay’s season.
His game-tying three-pointer with just one second left sent the game to overtime; it was his fourth three of the half. Then, with time winding down in overtime and the Phoenix down by one, Davin’s pull-up 17-footer dropped through the rim with less than a second remaining to give Green Bay their first victory in nearly two months, snapping their 14-game losing streak.
How were the Phoenix able to pull off such an upset? One word: shooting. Green Bay made 16 of their 42 shots from beyond the arc, good for 38%. They also set records, as no other Phoenix team in history had ever made more than 14 threes in a game. Ziegler, Tucker, Heffer, and Ryan Wade shot a combined 14 of 32 from distance. In a game where Milwaukee was heavily favored, long range shooting helped Green Bay stay in the game, preventing the second-half beatdowns that have followed many a close first half this season.
3-point shooting has been a weakness for Green Bay this season. They are hesitant to take threes, ranking 212th in the nation in 3-point attempts. In fact, their 42 shots from three against Milwaukee is double their season average. When they do take them, they don’t often go in, as the team is shooting 29.4% on threes, 347th in the nation.
Another weakness-turned-strength for Green Bay was their free throw shooting. The Phoenix made 12 of their 16 shots from the line, 75%. They’re shooting 70.1% on the season, 229th in the country. A jump of 5% doesn’t appear to be a huge boost, but shooting 75% on free throws would put you at 54th in the nation. Cade Meyer was locked in, scoring five of his seven points from the charity stripe, and only missing one.
With four of their last six games at home, Green Bay is hoping this game can give them some momentum as they head towards the end of the season. Although they aren’t projected to win any more games this year, if their shooting stays hot they can knock off any team in the league. Also, I would be remiss not to congratulate Milwaukee native Freddie Owens, who picked up the first win of his head coaching career after replacing Will Ryan.