St. Norbert Visits Heartbreak Hotel in NCAA Tournament

From Sports Information Director, March 2, 2013 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

WHEATON, Ill. - St. Norbert College saw a 14-point lead evaporate only to have the game come down to the final shot but still lose a 59-58 heartbreaker to Wheaton College in a first-round NCAA Division III Tournament game at King Arena.

The Green Knights (20-6) held a 38-24 lead at halftime only to see the Thunder (21-6) mount a furious rally in the second half. St. Norbert turned a seven-point deficit with 3:33 to go get cut to one point, but Paul Appleton's 3-pointer at the buzzer was off-line to send Wheaton to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

St. Norbert played nearly a flawless first half to take its large lead at intermission. The Green Knghts led 17-15 with 9:10 left before halftime before mounting a 16-7 run to take a 33-22 lead with 3:39 to go after consecutive 3-pointers by Andy Fox and Austin Elliott. The Green Knights closed the half on a 5-0 run, finished by a 3-pointer by Jeremy Paprocki, for its 38-24 lead.

The Green Knights then went ice cold from the floor in the second half, making just 4 of 19 field-goal attempts and corralling just one offensive rebound in the final 20 minutes. Brandon Gries' layup put St. Norbert ahead 42-31 with 15:24 to go, but the Green Knights would not connect on another field goal until 3:02 remained in the game - a drought of 12:22. Paprocki's jumper with 3:02 left brought St. Norbert back to withing 56-51.

Wheaton's Nathan Haynes made a free throw with 2:06 left to make it 57-51, and Gries followed with four free throws to cut the deficit to 57-55 with 44 seconds left. The Thunder's Brayden Teuscher made a tough baseline jumper with 13 seconds left for a 59-55 lead, but Paprocki canned a 3-pointer with 8 seconds to go to make it 59-58. Wheaton's Tyler Peters missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 7 seconds left to set up the game's final possession.

Gries led St. Norbert with 17 points, going 13-for-14 from the free-throw line. Andrew Schwoerer was the only other St. Norbert player in double figures with 12 points. St. Norbert shot 38.3 percent for the game, making 18 of 47 field-goal attempts. The Green Knights committed six turnovers and were outrebounded 34-25, including 20-9 in the second half.

Teuscher had 16 points to pace Wheaton, while Nathan Haynes added 16 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Kvam added 12 points, connecting on four 3-pointers, with three of those coming during Wheaton's second-half charge.