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St. Norbert Rallies to Win Overtime Thriller at Grinnell to Claim Outright MWC Title

From Asst. AD/Athletics Communications, February 15, 2020 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes,, (920) 403-4077

GRINNELL, Iowa - St. Norbert College came back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to force overtime and top Grinnell College 116-113 in a Midwest Conference heartpounder at Darby Gym.

With the win, the Green Knights (20-3, 15-1 MWC) clinched their ninth outright Midwest Conference championship in the last 11 years and will host the four-team MWC Tournament on Feb. 28-29 at Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center in De Pere.

St. Norbert found itself in dire straits in the second half, trailing by 11 points on three different occasions - the last at 78-67 with 10:58 remaining. The Green Knights needed just over three minutes to get the deficit down to one possession, with Jacob Bolwerk's layup capping a 13-5 run to get to within 83-81 with 7:54 left. St. Norbert would take its first lead of the second half when Joe Ciriacks connected on a 3-pointer with 5:49 left for an 88-87 lead. Grinnell would go on a 6-1 run to take a 93-89 lead with 4:56 remaining.

The Green Knights would turn up the defensive pressure from there, allowing Grinnell just one made field goal in the final 4:56. St. Norbert tied the game at 93-93 after baskets by Beirne and Bolwerk, and the contest was tied for the 10th time at 95-95 on a pair of Beirne free throws with 2:09 left. A Beirne hoop with 1:25 to go put St. Norbert up 99-96, and each team split a pair of free throws leading up to Grinnell's Jackson Qualley banking in a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to tie the game at 100-100. Beirne's shot at the buzzer narrowly missed leading to an extra five minutes.

St. Norbert never trailed in overtime, scoring the first six points on a basket by Beirne and two by Bolwerk. A Ciriacks' jumper with 2:45 left put St. Norbert up 109-102, but Grinnell would score the next six points to get to within 109-108 with 1:56 left. Jared Murphy potted a clutch 3-pointer with 1:25 left for a 114-109 lead, but the Pioneers wouldn't go away getting to within one with 48 seconds left. Beirne made two free throws with 21 seconds left for a 116-113 lead, and Grinnell missed a pair of shots around a pair of missed St. Norbert free throws to end the game.

St. Norbert and Grinnell played closely in the first half, with a six-point Grinnell lead eventually getting trimmed to a 47-45 edge at halftime.

Beirne led the Green Knights with a yeoman's effort, posting 29 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Ciriacks added 27 points, while Murphy finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. Connor Curtis added 15 points, while Bolwerk flirted with a triple double at 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The Green Knights shot 52.4 percent (43-for-82) from the floor and were 27-for-37 (73 percent) at the free-throw line. St. Norbert also had a 58-36 rebounding advantage and scored 34 second-chance points.

Grinnell shot 45.3 percent (39-for-86) from the floor and 38 percent (19-for-50) from beyond the three-point arc. Qualley totaled a team-high 24 points, while Hannes Kogelnik and Aiden Gilbert had 17 points apiece.

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