Boosted by Brittany Hogen’s 20 points and 14 rebounds, Parkside rose to the occasion in the most pivotal game of the season by edging out Lewis, 72-69.
Featuring a women’s basketball Great Lakes Valley Conference showdown of elites, UW-Parkside (11-4) (19-5) hosted Lewis University (10-5) (14-10) Thursday night at DeSimone Gymnasium in Kenosha, WI.
Fresh off two straight losses for the first time this year including one against Lewis on Saturday, 74-58, the Rangers returned the favor with a victory over Lewis on Thursday. The triumph will serve as a decisive factor in determining the GLVC’s North Division winner. Parkside is now one win shy of tying their all-time record for wins (20) achieved in their 2004-05 campaign.
“We definitely wanted to pay them [Lewis] back after a tough loss at their place,” said Parkside head coach Jenny Kenesie, currently in her eighth year at the helm. “It came down to pride.”
A 17-4 run early triggered a 17-12 advantage by the Flyers leaving an ominous note; Lewis wasn’t going to flop over with the opportunity to be a step closer to securing a first-round bye.
Stressing high percentage shots, the Rangers accumulated 36 points in the paint. Hogen had 14 of those in the first half.
For the visiting side, Lewis illustrated interior dominance of their own.
Operating their offense through junior forward Jenny Turpel, Lewis utilized a balanced attack very difficult to defend. Turpel’s ability to be versatile by posting up and slashing the lane racked up a game-high 24 points, and she chipped in with six rebounds.
“She’s [Turpel’s] a tough player, but once we switched Jen Moran on her, we had a lot more success,” Kenesie assured. “Overall, we had a better defensive mentality, and we showed a lot more aggression.”
Ranked fifth in the circuit in three-pointers (51), Lewis’s sharp-shooter Kelly Monaco capatalized off the extra attention down low as the guard stroked two from behind the arc.
Making key contributions for the Rangers in a reserve role, Amy Selk and Kaitlyn Bettiga combined for eight first half points. The productive duo also added stellar defense.
Courtesy of senior Amanda Gibson’s 18-footer as time expired, Parkside entered the break facing just a 32-36 deficit.
With the inability to generate much offense from anyone but Hogen among the starting five, Parkside once again called on Selk and Bettiga to provide the spark. The Rangers commanded their first lead of the final half, 46-45.
Selk finished with an impressive 14 points and five rebounds.
“Having kids do that off the bench is extremely valuable,” Kenesie said. “Selk is really someone who we look to for offense in that role.”
With 9:10 remaining, Parkside solidified their momentum with a crafty dish from Jadee Rooney to Brittany Beyer who finished the play with a bucket and a foul. Vaulting out to a 48-42 lead, the Rangers never looked back from there.
Rooney and Beyer both struggled statistically, but the two of Parkside’s leading scorers made their presence known down the stretch by combining for 18 second half points.
“We stayed under control and poised the whole way,” Hogen said. “They [Lewis] double-teamed me a lot but the guards really came through, and I have a lot of faith in them.”
Lewis closed the gap late, however, Gibson sank four from the charity stripe to seal the deal.
Parkside has three games left, all of which are against divisional opponents. They travel out to Quincy University on Monday, Feb. 15 set for a 5:30 tip-off. Parkside returns home to host Saint Joseph’s at 5:30 on Thursday, Feb. 18.
“The girls were going to do everything it took to get this win,” Kenesie said. “No matter what, we’re going to fight to the end.”