Green Knights Rally Late to Top Hope in NCAA Division III Tournament

From Sports Information Director, March 5, 2010 | Men's Basketball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

STEVENS POINT - St. Norbert College closed the last 3 minutes 14 seconds of the game on a 13-4 run to post a 72-65 win over Hope College in a first-round NCAA Division III Tournament game at Quandt Fieldhouse.

The Green Knights, ranked 15th by D3hoops.com's Top 25, improved to 23-3 and will face fifth-ranked UW-Stevens Point at 7 p.m. Saturday in the second round. Hope finished its season 21-8.

The triumph is St. Norbert's second NCAA Division III Tournament win in program history. The Green Knights topped North Central (Ill.) College 69-56 in 1984 before falling to eventual national champion UW-Whitewater 87-84 in triple overtime in the round of 16.

Hope led 61-9 59 with 3:39 to play on a Will Bowser basket, but Jake Dietz's layup with 3:14 left squared the game at 61-61. Hope's Andy Venema then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2:54 left, and James Pfitzinger's layup with 2:41 to go put the Green Knights ahead 63-61. Pfitzinger scored again on St. Norbert's next series for a 65-61 lead with 1:51 left.

Bowser canned a jumper in the paint to bring the Flying Dutchmen within two, but Dave Wipperfurth canned a 3-pointer with 1:06 to go for a 68-63 lead. Hope had three shots on its next trip to score but missed all three attempts. The Green Knights made 4 of 8 free throws down the stretch to seal the game, with Hope's last score coming with 14 seconds left.

St. Norbert opened the game with with an 8-0 lead three minutes into the game. The Flying Dutchmen, making their 21st NCAA Tournament appearance, then went on an 11-0 run following a 19-19 tie to take a 30-19 advantage with 5:04 left before halftime. The Green Knights finished the half on a 6-0 run to trail just 32-27 at the break.

Hope led by as many as nine points in the second half at 41-32 with 16:32 left. The Green Knights finally tied the game at 52-52 with 8:06 to go on a pair of Chris Peterson free throws. Pfitzinger's dunk with 6:22 left put St. Norbert ahead at 57-56, and other than a couple of ties the Green Knights stayed in the lead the rest of the way.

Wipperfurth finished with a game-high 19 points, while Peterson had 15 points and nine rebounds. John Taylor added 14 points for the Green Knights, who were 20-for-30 at the free-throw line. St. Norbert shot 46.9 percent (23-for-49) from the floor.

Chris Nelis led Hope with 15 points, while Venema added 14 and Bowser 10. The Flying Dutchmen, who were 8-for-10 at the free-throw line, shot 41 percent (25-for-61) from the floor for the game.