St. Norbert's Defense Leads to 14th-Straight Win, Face Ripon For MWC Title

From Sports Information Director, February 27, 2009 | Women's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College used stifling defense in the second half to pull away from Illinois College and claim a 59-47 win in a Midwest Conference Championship semifinal game at Schuldes Sports Center.

The Green Knights (20-4) ran their winning streak to 14 and will face archrival Ripon College at 2 p.m. Saturday at Schuldes Sports Center for the league championship. The winner will also advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament. St. Norbert has won 24 straight games at Schuldes Sports Center.

St. Norbert and Illinois College (14-10) were deadlocked at 26-26 before the Green Knights held the Lady Blues scoreless for the first 4 minutes 36 seconds of the second half to build a modest 32-26 lead. The Lady Blues fought back to within 35-33 on a Casey Johnson 3-pointer with 12:48 to go, but St. Norbert went on a 14-2 run over the next seven minutes to lead 49-35 with 5:38 after an Emily Otzelberger hoop. The Lady Blues would not get closer than nine points the rest of the way.

The Green Knights, who lead the Midwest Conference in scoring defense at 54.0 points per game, held Illinois College to 7-for-25 (28 percent) floor shooting in the second half and 38.6 percent (17-for-44) for the game. The Lady Blues were also harried into 30 turnovers.

St. Norbert, which has been in the top 10 in field-goal percentage nationally most of the season, shot 47.9 percent (23-for-48) for the game. The Green Knights were just 10-for-26 (38.5 percent) in the first half, but canned 13 of 22 (59.1 percent) of their shots in the second half.

The Green Knights opened the game with a 7-0 lead, but Illinois went on a 7-0 run of its own to tie the game. The Lady Blues led by as many as five points twice in first half before Denise Heuser's free throw with no time left tied the game 26-26 at halftime.

Morgan Strasser led St. Norbert with 15 points, the only Green Knight in double figures. Heuser and Emily Otzelberger each had nine points for St. Norbert, which outrebounded Illinois 26-25.

Rachel Macon led all scorers with 21 points for the Lady Blues, and also added 10 rebounds. Candy Norville and Denise Pachlhofer each had nine points. The Lady Blues were making their first MWC Championship appearance since 1999.