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St. Norbert Clinches NCAA Tournament Berth in MWC Championship Thriller

From Sports Information Director, February 27, 2016 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College saw a 15-point second-half lead melt into a tie game inside 10 seconds remaining, but the Green Knights survived with a 71-69 win over Carroll University in the championship game of the Midwest Conference Tournament at Schuldes Sports Center.

The Green Knights (23-2), ranked No. 8 in the D3hoops.com Top 25, won the MWC Tournament for the fourth consecutive year and the NCAA Division III Tournament berth that goes along with it. St. Norbert also won for the 64th consecutive time against a Midwest Conference opponent. Carroll (20-5) hopes for an at-large berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Pioneers have three losses to the Green Knights this season, including two each by two points.

St. Norbert led by 15 points early in the second half and still held an 11-point edge at 65-54 with just 1 minute 44 seconds remaining. From there, the Pioneers mounted a furious last-ditch rally to almost steal the win. The Green Knights led 68-60 with 58 seconds left before the Pioneers' Joel Heesch scored with 41 seconds to go. Following a turnover, Carroll got a free throw from Bryan Nagy with 37 seconds left.

After another St. Norbert turnover Nick Lange's tip-in off a Nagy miss was good and also converted a free throw for a conventional three-point play to put the score 68-66 with 27 seconds to go. St. Norbert's Terrence Garner split a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left, and Carroll answered with the tying 3-pointer by Tyler Diehl with 6.7 seconds remaining to knot the score at 69-69.

On the ensuing inbound pass, Lange - who was guarding the inbounder - ran through a screen set by Mitchell Reinthaler and was whistled for a foul. Reinthaler drained both free throws, and Diehl's 3-point attempt as time expired slipped out of his hands to preserve St. Norbert's win.

St. Norbert led by 10 points at 17-7 in the early going but the Pioneers got as close as two points late in the half before the Green Knights settled on a 31-27 halftime lead.

The Green Knights opened the second half on a 17-6 run to take a 48-33 lead with 13:51 to go on a Mitch Winter 3-pointer. St. Norbert had just one field goal until D.J. DeValk canned a 3-pointer with 5:21 left for a 56-46 lead.

St. Norbert shot 43.5 percent (20-for-46) from the floor for the game. DeValk finished with 20 points, while Reinthaler had 15 points - 11 coming at the free-throw line. Garner added 10 points and seven assists.

Carroll shot 50.0 percent (26-fo-52) from the floor. Joel Heesch came off the bench with 18 points and eight rebounds, both team highs for the Pioneers. Nagy, Lange and Kyle Keranen all had 11 points apiece.