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St. Norbert On To Sweet 16 After Surviving St. Olaf Nailbiter

From Sports Information Director, March 5, 2016 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in 32 years after holding off St. Olaf College 63-61 in a second-round tournament game at a rollicking Schuldes Sports Center.

The Green Knights (25-2) will face Alma College (23-6) in a sectional semifinal Friday at a site to be announced on Sunday by the NCAA. St. Norbert, which tied a school record for wins in a season, last advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1984.

St. Olaf (19-10), the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament champions, cut its deficit to one point on six different occasions in the final 8 minutes 53 seconds, but could not wrest the lead from the Green Knights.

The Oles' Justin Pahl drained a pair of free throws with 2:10 remaining to cut St. Olaf's deficit to 54-52. St. Norbert then missed a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws but St. Olaf misfired on a three-point attempt of its own. D.J. DeValk's layup with 1:05 to go put St. Norbert up 56-52 to set up a dramatic final minute.

St. Olaf countered with a 3-pointer by Austin Majeski with 50 seconds remaining, but DeValk rose to swish a triple of his own for a 59-55 edge with 28 seconds left. Riley Aeikens countered six seconds later with another 3-pointer, putting the Oles down 59-58. DeValk was fouled with 14 seconds left to give St. Norbert a 61-58 lead.

Aeikens missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with the rebound going to Mitchell Reinthaler with 4 seconds to go. Reinthaler connected on both ends of a pressure-packed 1-and-1 to put St. Norbert ahead 63-58 and seal the win. Aeikens connected on a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final points.

St. Olaf, which qualified for the Sweet 16 in last year's tournament, held a 12-9 lead just over 8 minutes into the game. The Green Knights then went on a 13-2 run fueled by a Reinthaler 3-pointer and five points from Ben Bobinski to lead 24-14 with 4:55 left in the half. The Oles cut their deficit to 28-24 at halftime on an Evan O'Dorisio jumper that beat the buzzer.

St. Norbert again built a 10-point lead with a 39-29 edge with 13:32 remaining. St. Olaf went on a 13-4 run over the next 4:39 to draw to within 43-42 and set up the compelling stretch run.

Tim Marshall scored a career-high 18 points for St. Norbert, getting nine points in each half. DeValk added 18 points, while Dakota Oskey came off the bench to add a career-high 10 points. The Green Knights shot 45.5 percent (25-for-55) from the floor and committed just six turnovers.

St. Olaf standout big man Ben Figini finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Oles, who shot 40.7 percent (22-for-54) from the floor. Majeskie added 19 points. St. Olaf, which scored its second-lowest point total of the season, outrebounded St. Norbert 34-33.