Phoenix win 25th straight game en route to Horizon crown

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Wisconsin-Green Bay completed a perfect Horizon League season by coasting through the championship game.

Nicole Soulis scored 21 points and Amanda Popp added 18 for the 22nd-ranked Phoenix, who won their 25th straight game, beating Butler 91-64 on Sunday. Wisconsin-Green Bay (28-3) went 16-0 in the regular season and earned its eight NCAA Tournament berth in 10 seasons.

The Phoenix shot 67 percent (16-for-24) from the field in the first half, including 9 of 15 (60 percent) from behind the arc, to take a 49-36 lead. Wisconsin-Green Bay finished the game by making 15 of 29 3-pointers (51.7 percent), one shy of the tournament record that it set in a 2005 quarterfinal game against Cleveland State, and shot 57.4 percent from the field.

"I thought they played extremely well today, the way they're capable of playing," said coach Kevin Borseth. "They're going to need to do that again, and I think they can. They proved to themselves that they've got the ability to play at that level. If you're going to go anywhere in this tournament, that's the way you've got to play because the competition is going to get extremely difficult."

Wisconsin-Green Bay took an early 13-0 lead en route to its season-high point total and never looked back. The Bulldogs (16-15), who played in the league championship game for the first time since 1997-98, have lost 22 straight games to the Phoenix since 1999.

"We were playing at a place where tradition is very rich and they understand what it takes to win," said Butler coach Beth Couture. "We're awfully young. I felt they came out playing well."

Soulis scored 16 of her points in the decisive first half and was named the tournaments most valuable player. Besides Popp's 18 points, other Phoenix players posting in double digits were Kayla Groh with 11 points and Erin Templin.

"Whenever everyone is hitting, it gives you the confidence to shoot because you feel like it's going to go in," said Popp.

Jackie Closser led Butler with 23 points, including seven 3-pointers, tying a tournament record set by Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Jessica Wilhite in 2001. Candace Jones added 13 points.

Popp had two of Wisconsin-Green Bay's three 3-pointers in the first 3:22 of the game. Rachel Porath's three-point play with 12:57 left in the first half stretched the Phoenix lead to 23-5.

"I thought we played as good of game that we played the entire year," Borseth said. "The last time I coached a team that played to this caliber in a championship game, it went to the Final Four. Granted that was in Division II, but our kids came out and played extremely well. It was our best game of the year."

Closser scored nine of her 14 first-half points on 3-pointers in the final 5:19 in that half, and the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 49-36. Butler never got closer than 13 points in the second half.