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Green Knights Hold On to Win MWC Tournament Championship

From Sports Information Director, February 27, 2016 | Women's Basketball
by Dan Lukes,, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College held off a late Cornell College charge to claim the championship game of the Midwest Conference Tournament by a 56-53 score on Connie Tilley Court at Schuldes Sports Center.

The Green Knights (21-4) clinched the MWC's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament, their 13th in program history and fifth in the last seven years. Cornell saw its season end 19-6.

Neither team led by more than eight points, the last a 38-30 St. Norbert advantage with 5:10 left in the third quarter on a Mallory Nickerson layup. The Rams concluded the period on a 12-6 run to trim the deficit down to 44-42 at the end of the frame.

St. Norbert scored the first four points of the fourth quarter - a pair of free throws by Brianna Byrne at the 7:20 mark and a Byrne jumper at 6:46 - for a 48-42 lead. The two teams traded baskets before Cornell's Kellie Kuzmanic drained a 3-pointer with 5:07 left to cut it to 50-47.

Neither team scored until Haley Grana split a pair of free throws with 3:20 left. Heidi Van Sistine's running layup with 2:07 left put St. Norbert ahead 52-48, but Cornell responded with a hoop by Maggie Hogen with 1:53 to go.

Jill Kleiman then made a pair of free throws with 1:01 remaining for a 54-50 lead, but Cornell wouldn't go away with Grana hitting a 3-pointer with 50 seconds to go. St. Norbert then missed a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left, but Cornell's potential go-ahead shot was offline and Regan Carmichael rebounded with 10 seconds to.

Following a timeout to move the ball to the frontcourt, Byrne hit a pair of free throws with 6.5 seconds left. Grana's 30-foot three-point field-goal attempt as time expired was just wide, careening off the rim to end the game.

St. Norbert shot 36.8 percent (21-for-57) from the floor. Byrne led the Green Knights with 14 points, while Carmichael added 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Cornell shot 28.6 percent (16-for-56) from the floor but canned 8 of 22 three-point field goal attempts for a 36.4 percentage. Kuzmanic led the Rams with 14 points, while Diamond Boyd added 11 points and 11 rebounds.