WICHITA, Kan. — Kayla Tetschlag scored 24 points and Wisconsin-Green Bay extended its winning streak to 21 games, beating Arkansas-Little Rock 59-55 in a first-round NCAA tournament game Sunday.
No. 5 seed Green Bay (33-1) hadn’t won a game by a single-digit margin since Jan. 27 against Butler, but Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas-Little Rock (23-8) made the Phoenix sweat this one out.
Thanks to 24 points from Chastity Reed, the Trojans led midway through the second half and remained within striking distance in the final minutes, never letting Green Bay’s lead grow to more than 10. UALR pulled within 58-55 on a 3-pointer by Reed with 3 seconds left, but Julie Wojta hit a clinching free throw with 1.9 seconds to go.
Green Bay will play either Michigan State or Northern Iowa in the second round Tuesday. It’s the second consecutive season Green Bay has won its tournament opener. The Phoenix are 4-2 all-time in NCAA tournament games played at neutral sites.
The second half turned into a showdown between Reed, the Sun Belt Conference player of the year, and Tetschlag, who shared Horizon League player of the year honors with teammate Celeste Hoewisch.
Reed, after scoring only five points in the first half, rallied UALR after halftime, hitting medium-range jumpers and scoring 10 consecutive points for the Trojans in one stretch. Tetschlag matched her on the other end, continually catching lob passes inside and scoring.
UALR’s final lead came with 10:31 left, when Asriel Rolfe hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it 37-36. Tetschlag scored a minute later to put Green Bay ahead for good, and the Phoenix led 48-41 after Hoewisch’s 3-pointer with 5:55 to go. The lead swelled to double digits for the first time on a 3-pointer by Sarah Eichler with 4:39 left that made it 51-41.
UALR turned the ball over on its first three possessions – committing two charging fouls – and had trouble penetrating Green Bay’s zone defense the entire first half. Still, the Trojans led 17-10 early.
Then UALR went nearly 6 minutes without a point and Green Bay slowly caught up. The Phoenix closed the half on a 7-2 spurt, and Wojta’s 3-pointer just before halftime gave Green Bay its largest lead to that point at 28-23.
Arkansas-Little Rock won its first-round game last season as a double-digit seed, stunning Georgia Tech.