St. Norbert Topples UW-Stevens Point in NCAA Tournament Opener

Green Knights advance to second round to face University of Chicago in regional final

From Sports Information Director, March 7, 2008 | Women's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

STEVENS POINT - A near-flawless performance was needed for the St. Norbert College women's basketball team to upset the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in a first-round NCAA Division III Tournament game.

That's precisely what the Green Knights received, toppling the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament champion 71-57 at a nearly full Berg Gym.

St. Norbert shot 53.1 percent from the floor, held the Pointers to 39.2 percent shooting and harried the hosts into 19 turnovers. Stevens Point was 13-0 on its home floor this year entering the game.

St. Norbert entered the game ranked 25th in the final D3hoops.com Top 25 before the NCAA Tournament. The Pointers are ranked 13th.

"We're not going to be perfect," St. Norbert coach Connie Tilley said. "We play hard and these kids are finally getting the respect they deserve because we really haven't gotten any all year."

The Green Knights will face University Athletic Association champion University of Chicago (21-5) at 7 p.m. Saturday for the regional championship.

St. Norbert, which won its 11th-straight game, led nearly box-to-wire. The Green Knights jumped out to an 11-2 lead off the hop, getting seven points from Linsey Propson and four by Rachel Hermus.

The Pointers would slowly work their way back into the game and tie it at 21-21 with 7:35 left in the first half on a Chelsea Kranz jumper. St. Norbert would take a quick 25-21 lead on baskets by Morgan Strasser and Hermus, and never led by less than two points the rest of the game.

St. Norbert led 31-27 at halftime and scored on its first three possessions of the second half on a basket by Hermus, a free throw by Strasser and a driving layup by Propson to take a 38-29 lead with 18:58 to play.

The Pointers (24-5) went on an 11-5 run over the next five minutes to trail 43-40 on a pair of free throws by Ali Nicastro with 11:49 left. But from there St. Norbert would go on a dominant 15-2 run to lead 62-45 with 5:11 left.

Strasser's jumper in the lane jump-started the run and gave the Green Knights a five-point cushion. She connected again on a conventional three-point play on St. Norbert's next trip for a 48-40 lead. Cortney Biese it a pair of free throws and Stefanie Bunday banked in a runner from 5 feet for a 52-42 lead with 9:34 left, and the Pointers would get no closer than nine the rest of the game.

Propson led St. Norbert with 20 points, while Strasser and Hermus each added 14 points. Emily Otzelberger grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to put the Green Knights at only minus-1 in rebounding (31-30) against the taller Pointers.

Laura Neuenfeldt tried to keep the Pointers in the game with 21 points, connecting on four 3-pointers, but wouldn't get much held Kranz had 12 points as the Pointers did not have another scorer in double figures.

St. Norbert is making its eighth NCAA Division III Tournament appearance and is now 8-11 all-time. The Green Knights, who are one win away from their fifth trip ever to the Sweet 16, won a first-round NCAA game for the fifth time.