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'It's unheard of': UWGB hoops takes latest step in push to go from worst to first

In front of their biggest crowd in five years, the Phoenix beat conference rival Oakland 69-59 Thursday night to move into first place in the Horizon League.
Posted at 10:30 PM, Jan 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-25 23:36:51-05

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (NBC 26) — It's time to believe.

A year after winning just three games, the UW-Green Bay men's basketball team now leads the Horizon League.

The Phoenix used a late 11-0 run to pull away from Oakland Thursday night, eventually winning 69-59 to take over the top spot in the conference standings.

  • A crowd of 3,513 attended the game, Green Bay's highest attendance since 2019.
  • With the score tied at 50 with 6:00 minutes to go, the Phoenix went on an 11-0 run to take control.
  • Sophomore guard Foster Wonders led the way with a career-high 19 points, shooting 7-8 from the floor including 5-6 from 3-point range.
  • Conference player of the year front-runner Noah Reynolds scored just eight points, his second-fewest this season, but dished out six assists.
  • Green Bay is now 8-3 in Horizon League play. The Phoenix have a chance to win their first regular season championship since 2014.

"On a massive scale, it's unheard of," Phoenix coach Sundance Wicks said after the game. "To go from the worst team in the country to where you are right now - you can do the math - that hasn't happened or probably won't happen in a long time or it might not have been ever."
"It's not over yet," Wicks continued. "But every time we come back into the Resch, it gets rowdier."

The Phoenix weren't the worst team in NCAA Division I last year, but they were close. Green Bay ranked 361st of 363 teams in the NET rankings, which are used to measure the resumes of college basketball teams.

Wicks took over a program that went just 3-29 last year and has already guided them to 13 wins in his debut season.

Basketball fans in the Green Bay area have taken notice. Thursday's crowd of 3,513 was the largest for the Phoenix since 2019. Will Eames, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, said he was buoyed by that energy.

"At the 6:00 mark on, I kind of blacked out in the moment," Eames said. "I was like 'Man, it's loud in here.'"

"It was awesome to see the fan base come out and support us," he said. "They lift us up. You're not as tired when they're loud like that so when they're out there like that supporting us it's a huge lift for us as team."

Up next: the Phoenix take on Detroit Mercy, which is 0-21 on the season. The Titans are ranked 361st of 362 teams in the NET. Tip-off is set for 12:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Resch Center.