St. Norbert Gets Ambushed in Nicolet Bank Tourney Opener by Northwestern

From Sports Information Director, December 29, 2009 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College saw its unbeaten start to the 2009-10 season come to an end at the hands of Northwestern (Minn.) College by a 72-70 score in the opening round of the Nicolet National Bank Holiday Tournament at Schuldes Sports Center.

The Green Knights, whose 7-0 start was their best since 1923, are ranked No. 15 in the D3hoops.com Top 25. Northwestern snapped a four-game losing streak to improve to 5-6. Both ranked teams in the Nicolet Bank Tournament lost in the opening round, as Edgewood topped No. 24 Chicago 67-61. St. Norbert will face Chicago in the consolation game at 5 p.m. Wednesday, while Northwestern will take on Edgewood in the 7 p.m. championship.

St. Norbert couldn't stop Northwestern down the stretch, as the visiting Eagles connected on 58.3 percent of their second-half field goals and canned 6 of 9 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes. The Green Knights led by as much as six points midway through the second half. Northwestern held a 56-55 lead with 3:13 left before Paul Mallers hit one of two free throws and Chris Peterson rebounded the miss and hit two free throws for a 58-56 lead.

Northwestern's Brian Lecheler then hit a 3-pointer from the corner and then had a steal and layup on consecutive possessions for a 61-58 Eagles lead with 2:09 to go. The Green Knights would only get within two points twice down the stretch, the final time with 0.8 seconds left.

Eric Garst led Northwestern with 18 points, while Lecheler added 17 points off the bench. Reid Berens added 11 points for the Eagles. Northwestern shot 45.8 percent for the game and canned 10 of 24 3-pointers.

Dave Wipperfurth led St. Norbert with 18 points, while Peterson came off the bench to add 17 points. Steve Papke netted 11 points with eight rebounds. St. Norbert shot just 27-for-66 (40.9 percent) from the floor and had a whopping 21 offensive rebounds, but had just 17 second-chance points.