Green Knight Offense Falters in MWC Title Game Loss to Ripon

From Sports Information Director, February 28, 2009 | Women's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College shot just 34 percent from the floor and had its 14-game winning streak snapped in the process in a 56-49 loss to Ripon College in the title game of the Midwest Conference Championship at Schuldes Sports Center.

The Red Hawks (18-7) claim the league's title for 2009 as well as the automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament. St. Norbert (20-5), which had its 24-game home winning streak snapped, will have to wait until Monday to see if it will receive an at-large berth into the tournament.

St. Norbert simply could not get its offense on track, especially in a first half that saw the Green Knights trail 18-13 at halftime. St. Norbert made just 5 of 22 field goals in the first half. Ripon and St. Norbert were tied at 13-13 with 2:19 left in the first half before the Red Hawks scored the half's final five points.

The Green Knights slowly climbed back into the game in the second half, drawing even at 22-22 with 15:49 to go on a Morgan Strasser conventional three-point play. St. Norbert took its largest lead of the game at 36-32 with 10:17 left on another Strasser three-point play, but Ripon responded with a 6-0 run to take a 38-36 lead.

Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the way until the game's final 15 seconds. Carissa Zuercher's two free throws with 3:08 left gave Ripon a 48-47 lead. Neither team scored again until St. Norbert's Stefanie Bunday hit a layup with 1:13 to go for a 49-48 lead. St. Norbert then got a defensive stop on the next possession when Strasser came up with a steal with 51 seconds left, but was called for traveling when trying to call time out. Ripon got a baseline out-of-bounds play and scored on the inbounds pass on a Heidi Baerenwald layup with 49 sceonds left.

St. Norbert's Rachel Hermus missed from inside while being double-teamed with 29 seconds left, and the Red Hawks were 6-for-6 at the free-throw line to close out the win.

Strasser scored all of her game-high 18 points in the second half, while Hermus added 13 points. The Green Knights were just 4-for-16 from beyond the three-point arc.

Erin Lind led Ripon with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Zuercher added 11 points, while Ashley Meister had 10. The Red Hawks were 16-for-44 (36.4 percent) from the floor but were 22-for-29 (75.9 percent) at the free-throw line.