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Green Bay women take down top-seeded Cleveland State 64-40 to claim Horizon League Tournament title

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Natalie McNeal scored a career-high 32 points to go with eight rebounds and No. 2 seed Green Bay took down No. 1 seed Cleveland State 64-40 in the Horizon League Tournament on Tuesday to earn its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2018.

Green Bay (27-6), which advanced to the final game for the fourth time in six years, became a 17-time tournament champion. The Phoenix enter the NCAA Tournament after reaching 25 wins for the seventh time in the last 10 years — including wins over ranked Creighton and Washington State.

Cleveland State (29-5) was playing in the championship final for the sixth time in its history and for the third straight season — including a victory over Green Bay last season. The Vikings had their 11-game winning streak snapped.

Jenna Guyer gave Green Bay the first double-digit lead of the game, 23-13, with 6:04 remaining in the second quarter. The Phoenix led by at least 10 the rest of the way. Guyer made a hook shot in the lane in the final seconds of the third quarter to extend Green Bay’s lead to 47-29.

McNeal made 15 field goals, while Cleveland State went 16 of 49 from the field. She topped her previous high of 30 points, set on Feb. 3 in an 86-63 loss at Cleveland State.

Colbi Maples led Cleveland State with 22 points. Mickayla Perdue, averaging 17.2 points per game, was held to seven points on 2-of-12 shooting. Maples led the league in free-throw attempts this season with 208, but only went 0 for 1 against Green Bay.

Maples scored 16 of Cleveland State’s 19 first-half points after making 7 of 12 from the field, while her teammates combined to go 1 for 11 in trailing 32-19 at the break.

The Vikings had just one offensive rebounds through the first three quarters.

Green Bay improved to 23-0 this season when holding opponents under 60 points per game — despite going against the league leader in points at 75.6 per game.

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