The Wisconsin GLO are the 2019 champions of the Global Women’s Basketball Association!
Taylor Wurtz drained a critical 3-pointer with under a minute to play and recorded a steal on the final possession of the game as the GLO concluded their undefeated season with a thrilling 80-78 victory over the three-time defending GWBA champion Flint Monarchs during the league’s title contest Sunday, Aug. 11 at Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh, Wis.
Wurtz hit a 3-pointer from the right side to extend the GLO lead to 79-75 with 33 seconds remaining. After Flint’s Sparkle Taylor answered with a 3-pointer of her own to pull the Monarchs within 79-78, Wisconsin’s Jolene Anderson split a pair of free throws for an 80-78 advantage.
Following a Flint timeout, Wurtz then sealed the win with a clean steal near the top of the key that clinched the title and an undefeated season for the GLO in their inaugural campaign.
The GLO (14-0) did not trail after the 6:13 mark of the third quarter on the way to becoming the first team besides Flint to capture a GWBA playoff championship during the four-year history of the league.
Wurtz paced five Wisconsin double-digit scorers with 18 points.
Mehryn Kraker and GWBA finals Most Valuable Player Jessica Lindstrom added 11 points apiece for the GLO, who also received 10 points from both Jolene Anderson and Steph Kostowicz. Lindstrom collected 15 rebounds and three steals en route to her fourth double-double of the year.
The GLO’s Julie Wojta chipped in nine points while Sam Logic had eight points, eight rebounds and a franchise-record 11 assists.
Wisconsin outshot Flint, 44 to 39.3 percent from the field, and owned advantages of 20-8 in assists, 12-9 in steals and 6-5 in blocks. Both teams committed 16 turnovers.
The GLO, who entered the championship game averaging 100.1 points per game, held on to win despite shooting 10-for-21 (.476) at the free throw line.
Flint (7-7) held a 51-49 rebounding edge, including 19-14 on the offensive end.
The Monarchs’ Sparkle Taylor led all players with 30 points off the bench.
Crystal Bradford, who went off for 41 points during Flint’s 104-83 semifinal win over St. Louis a day ago, finished Sunday’s title tilt with 26 points, 15 rebounds and four steals.
Lindstrom opened the scoring with a layup just 17 seconds into the game before Flint claimed its first of four leads of the game at 4-2 following a basket in the paint from Bradford at the 8:21 mark of the first period. However, Anderson knotted the score with a layup 29 seconds later, and the GLO never trailed by more than one point the rest of the way.
Wisconsin, which had a 19-15 lead after the first quarter, extended its cushion to 27-17 after five straight points by Kraker and held its largest lead of 12 points on three occasions in the second quarter as a Wojta jumper provided the GLO a 33-21 advantage, a layup from Kostowicz upped the lead back to 37-25 and Kraker layup made the score 39-27 with 3:25 left in the first half.
Flint trailed, 41-30, with 2:34 remaining in the second period before closing out the half with 10 unanswered points, including six from Bradford, who was held to just two points in the first quarter after committing three early fouls.
The Monarchs reclaimed the advantage four times during a third period that featured eight lead changes and two ties. Flint finished off a run of 11 straight points for a 42-41 edge before taking leads of 44-43, 46-45 and 48-47 – each time on baskets from either Bradford or Taylor, who accounted for 13 of the Monarchs’ 18 points in the third period.
The GLO once again regained a double-digit lead at 70-60 after a layup by Wojta with 6:54 to go in the fourth quarter. Wisconsin’s 14-4, five-minute run that spanned the last two periods featured eight points from Wurtz, four by Wojta and two from Kelly Moten.
Bradford made a pair of free throws to pull Flint within 73-70 with 3:37 left, but a basket in the paint by Kraker upped the GLO lead to 76-71 at the 2:25 mark. Brandie Baker’s layup then cut the Monarch deficit to 76-75 with 50 seconds remaining before Wurtz, who finished the year averaging a team-leading 16.4 points per game, hit a pivotal 3-pointer 17 seconds later for a 79-75 Wisconsin advantage.
The GLO, who entered the day winning by an average of 40.9 points per game, secured their first win of the year by fewer than 10 points.
Wisconsin won all five of its meetings with the Monarchs this season, downing Flint by scores of 88-58 on May 10, 79-60 on May 11, 99-79 on July 13 and 101-91 on July 28.
Flint clinched the three previous GWBA titles by scores of 99-52 over the Akron Innovators in 2016, 83-68 over the Milwaukee Aces in 2017 and 96-85 over the Chicago Breeze a year ago. The Monarchs had won five straight league playoff championships overall, claiming the 2014 and 2015 titles in the Women’s American Basketball Association.