ST. NORBERT TOPS NO. 1 UW-PLATTEVILLE IN NICOLET BANK TOURNEY THRILLER

Green Knights shoot 74 percent in second half to erase 15-point halftime deficit, Katzfey named tournament MVP

From Sports Information Director, December 30, 2008 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College mounted a furious second-half rally to post a rousing 70-68 win over No. 1-ranked UW-Platteville in the championship game of the Nicolet National Bank Holiday Tournament at Schuldes Sports Center.

The Green Knights erased a 37-22 halftime deficit by shooting 74 percent from the floor in the second half. St. Norbert, 8-1 on the season, is off to its best start since 1982-83 and has beaten two Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams in the same year for the first time since 1983-84. Platteville, which fell to 11-1, owns an exhibition win over NCAA Division I Bradley this season and is currently ranked No. 1 by D3hoops.com.

St. Norbert had to hold on for victory in a wild final minute of action. The Green Knights led 65-59 with 42 seconds left on a Paul Mallers free throw. The Pioneers' Mike Shaw canned a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left to halve the deficit. Mike Dowden made a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left and a 67-62 advantage.

Charlie Lohoff missed a 3-pointer for Platteville with 19 seconds left but secured his own rebound and found Shaw again for another triple five seconds later. Dowden again canned a pair of free throws with 8 seconds left, but the Pioneers Curt Hanson drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key just inside 5 seconds to play.

With 3.8 seconds left, John Taylor was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws. Platteville hurried upcourt, but Lohoff's desperation 3-pointer from just inside the half-court stripe was well-defended and fell way short.

The Green Knights fell well behind at halftime thanks to ice-cold shooting and Shaw's prowess from beyond the three-point arc. St. Norbert was 8-for-30 from the floor in the first half, as Platteville was able to build a double-digit advantage 13 minutes into the game. Shaw had 15 of his game-high 27 points in the first half as the Pioneers led 37-22 at the break.

St. Norbert came out with a quick 8-0 run to open the second half and get back into the game. Mallers and Dowden hit consecutive 3s, while Katzfey put home a layup. Platteville immediately answered on 3-pointers by Hanson and Shaw for a 43-30 lead with 15:48 left.

The hosts slowly clawed their way back into the game, tying the game at 51-51 on a pair of Dave Wipperfurth free throws with 6:18 left. Fleischmann then drove past Skemp at the top of the key with 5:40 to go to put the Green Knights ahead 53-51. Taylor canned a jumper for a four-point lead and Katzfey drilled a 16-footer from in front of the St. Norbert bench for a 59-53 lead with 2:35 to go to set up the game's final moments.

Katzfey led St. Norbert with 15 points and was named the tournament's most valuable player. Katzfey did yeoman's work in the low post, holding Platteville's All-America center Jeff Skemp to three points and one rebound. Wipperfurth had eight points in the game and 31 for the tournament, and Taylor had seven points with eight assists and no turnovers to both be named all-tournament.

Shaw finished with 27 points and Hanson had 17 points to be named all-tournament along with Carthage's Steve Djurickovic.

St. Norbert finished shooting 47.2 percent for the game, making 25 of 53 shots. The Green Knights made 6 of 15 3-pointers and 14-for-19 at the free-throw line. St. Norbert had just nine turnovers, including three in the second.

Platteville shot 50 percent from the floor, making 22 of 44 shots. The Pioneers made 11 of 20 3-pointers and outrebounded the Green Knights 29-25. Platteville had 19 turnovers.