St. Norbert Hangs On to Top Ripon and Claim Midwest Conference Championship

From Sports Information Director, February 10, 2010 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College scored just two points in the final 3 minutes 51 seconds of the game but had just enough left defensively to hold on and post a pulsating 77-72 win over Ripon College at Schuldes Sports Center.

The victory gave the Green Knights (19-2, 13-1 MWC) the outright Midwest Conference championship, just their third since joining the league in 1983 (1984, 2002, 2010). Ripon dropped into a second-place tie with Lake Forest at 14-6, 9-4.

The Green Knights took a 75-66 lead with 3:51 to go on a Chris Peterson conventional three-point play, but would not score again until 12 seconds remained. Aris Wurtz's jumper in the lane with 2:36 to go pulled Ripon to within 75-69, but the Red Hawks would not score a field goal the rest of the way either.

Scott Gillespie's two free throws with 2 minutes left made it 75-71. The Green Knights missed a 3-pointer with 1:28 left and fouled the rebounder, but Alex Tomsheck missed the two bonus free throws. The Green Knights misfired again but Ripon missed three shots on their next two possessions. Taylor Koth then split a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left and John Taylor made two free throws with 12 seconds left to close out the win.

The game started out at a frenetic pace, with both teams shooting over 60 percent from the floor in the first half before settling on a 40-40 halftime tie. Ripon led most of the last 10 minutes of the first half, a period that featured 10 lead changes, but Peterson's 3-pointer from the deep corner late in the first half drew the Green Knights even.

St. Norbert opened the second half on a quick 7-0 run, getting a 3-pointer by Taylor, a putback by Steve Papke and another hoop by Taylor for a 47-40 lead. The Red Hawks worked the deficit down to 57-55 before St. Norbert went on a 11-2 run for a 68-57 edge with 8:26 left. The Green Knights led 72-62 with 4:50 to go after a thunderous dunk by a driving Papke and another Papke hoop on a 15-foot baseline jumper. That sequence set up the game's final minutes.

Peterson led St. Norbert with 21 points, while Taylor added 19 points and Papke 12. Dave Wipperfurth added nine points, eight rebounds and six assists. The Green Knights shot 51.7 percent from the floor, making 30 of 58 field goals, and also held a 33-26 rebounding advantage.

Ripon was held to just 7-for-22 (31.8 percent) shooting in the second half, and shot 47.8 percent (22-for-46) for the game. The Red Hawks stayed in the game by getting into the bonus early in the second half and went 23-for-30 at the free-throw line. Gillespie scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, and also had seven assists and four rebounds. Andy Perrine added 11 points, while Aris Wurtz and Matt Nelson had 10 apiece.