MARK COUCH | SPORTS EDITOR
While you were back at home, relaxing and enjoying your winter break, the men’s basketball team was hard at work racking up wins. The Green Knights went 7-2 in their nine games during the break.
Coach Grzesk’s team started off the winter break schedule with a win and a loss on the road against Cornell College and UW-Oshkosh, then the Green Knights returned home to host the Nicolet National Bank Holiday Tournament at UW-Green Bay.
St. Norbert started the tournament off with a commanding 88-35 win over Finlandia University before playing UW-Platteville in the championship game. The win over Finlandia gave Coach Grzesk 200 wins in his head coaching career at SNC. The Green Knights trailed 25-18 at half, but stormed back and took the lead with nine minutes left and never looked back. They held on for a 63-56 victory over the Pioneers to capture the tournament championship for the fifth time in its ten-year history. Freshman Connor Curtis led St. Norbert with 19 points and was named the tournament MVP. Ben Bobinski and D.J. DeValk were named all-tournament, chipping in 18 and 10 points respectively.
After defeating Beloit College 72-51 at Beloit, the Green Knights came back home for a three-game homestand. They cruised through the homestand, picking up three wins over Grinnell College, Illinois College and Monmouth College, and never winning by less than 23 points.
The seventh-ranked Green Knights travelled to Ripon College to take on the Red Hawks, with their 72-game, Midwest Conference-winning streak on the line. The Red Hawks got out to an 8-0 lead and led 34-18 at half. The second half was no better for St. Norbert, as they could only cut the deficit to 14 points before Ripon went on a 7-0 run. Ripon shot a spectacular 55 percent from the floor and won 81-55, handing SNC their first MWC loss since Feb. 9, 2013 at Grinnell College. The loss moved Ripon into a tie with St. Norbert at the top of the MWC standings to finish the winter break portion of the schedule.
The Green Knights got back to their winning ways in a 65-48 win at home against Knox College. They continued to gather momentum, racking up victories over Lawrence University and Cornell College to set up a rematch at home versus Ripon.
SNC led Ripon by one game in the MWC standings entering the contest. The winner of the game may very well go on to be named the eventual MWC champion. Ripon got out to a quick 14-10 lead, but SNC charged back to take a 24-16 lead. Ben Bobinski capped off St. Norbert’s first half scoring with a layup on route to an 18 point performance. The Green Knights were up 33-31 at the half. Ripon came out firing in the second half, taking a 36-35 lead just two minutes into play. However, St. Norbert went on a 12-0 run to take a 47-36 lead and later on a 9-0 run for a 63-50 lead with 6:50 left to play. Tim Marshall chipped in a career-high 19 points to help St. Norbert secure the 79-62 over the Red Hawks and take control of the MWC.
St. Norbert is currently 16-3 on the season and their MWC lead is at two games over Ripon. The Green Knights will be back home to play host to Lake Forest on Feb. 14 at 7:30 at the Kress Events Center.