Green Knights Win NCAA Opener, Post 23rd Straight Victory

From Sports Information Director, March 7, 2014 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - St. Norbert College led the entire second half en route to an 87-79 win over Ohio Wesleyan University in a first-round NCAA Division III Tournament Midwest Regional game at Illinois Wesleyan University's Shirk Center.

The Green Knights (25-1) won for the 23rd consecutive time and advances to the second-round game against Illinois Wesleyan at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Titans won their first-round game over Webster University 71-70.

Ohio Wesleyan (20-8) had a slight edge early, holding its last four-point lead at 15-11 just over seven minutes into the game. St. Norbert went on an 11-3 run over the next 4:53, taking a 22-18 edge on a Garrett Thorn layup. The Battling Bishops connected on a pair of 3-pointers in their next two possessions to knot the score at 24-24, but Andrew Schwoerer's basket with 5:39 to go before halftime gave St. Norbert a lead it would never relinquish.

The Green Knights led 32-31 with 3 minutes to go before halftime after Ohio Wesleyan's Claude Gray canned a 3-pointer, but St. Norbert went on an 8-1 run to close the half. Izaiah Anderson, Brandon Gries, Schwoerer and Steven Hofacker all had baskets to give St. Norbert a 40-32 lead at halftime.

St. Norbert and Ohio Wesleyan played at a breakneck pace in the second half, with each team scoring 47 points. Gries canned a 3-pointer on St. Norbert's second possession of the half for a 43-32 lead, but the Battling Bishops would hang around and whittle their deficit down to 56-53 with 12:58 remaining.

The Green Knights would hold off the Ohio Wesleyan charge, taking a 66-56 lead on an Anderson jumper in the paint with 8:44 to go to cap off a 10-3 run. The Battling Bishops would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, and Kam Cerroni's 3-poitner with 4:54 to go put the Green Knights comfortably ahead 75-61.

Gries led St. Norbert with 18 points, moving his career scoring total to 1,239 to tie him for 11th all-time at St. Norbert with Dick Rankin. Gries added seven rebounds and six assists. Cerroni added 17 points. Schwoerer came off the bench to score 16 points and collect seven rebounds. Schwoerer, who now has 1,002 career points, became the 27th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark and just the third St. Norbert player since 1975 to reach that plateau as a junior. Anderson finished with 15 points.

St. Norbert shot 50.8 percent from the floor, making 30 of 59 field-goal attempts. The Green Knights held a commanding 41-25 rebounding advantage.

Gray and Dre White led Ohio Wesleyan with 23 points apiece, while Taylor Rieger had 14 points. The Battling Bishops shot 52.7 percent (29-for-55) from the floor, but were 11-for-28 (39.3 percent) from beyond the three-point arc and 10-for-20 (50 percent) at the free-throw line.