By Murray Gleffe
DE PERE — The St. Norbert College men’s basketball team grabbed at least a share of the Midwest Conference championship with a resounding 66-43 victory over Beloit Feb. 12 at the Mulva Sports Center.
The Green Knights have won or shared nine of the past 11 titles dating back to the 2009-10 season.
It was the fewest points given up by St. Norbert all season.
“Our defensive intensity was good throughout the game,” said St. Norbert head coach Gary Grzesk. “We had some adversity with foul trouble in the first half. When those starters came back in to start the second half, we built our lead back up.”
Jared Murphy led the Green Knights (19-3 overall, 14-1 MWC) with 18 points, while Jacob Bolwerk added 10 points and four rebounds.
St. Norbert shot 42 percent overall from the field, while Beloit connected on only 27 percent of its shots from the floor and 59 percent of its free throws.
The Green Knights got off to a flying start, going up 12-4 after Joe Ciriacks nailed a 16-footer from the left wing.
Murphy got into the action a bit later, hitting back-to-back baskets to give St. Norbert its first double-digit lead of the contest, 17-7, with 11:03 remaining in the first half.
While the Green Knights were canning shots, they were also getting into foul trouble, with three starters each garnering two in the first 20 minutes.
Just before half, reserve Jack Pettit stole the ball and went the distance for two before the horn sounded, giving St. Norbert a 34-18 lead at the break.
The Buccaneers had seven free-throw makes compared to five field goals in the first half.
After Beloit scored the opening basket of the second half, the Green Knights went on a 15-2 run, sparked by a quick six by Bolwerk and two buckets from Nolan Beirne.
St. Norbert led by as many as 31 points in the second half and coasted to the victory.
“We have a great group of coaches to be able to win as many conference championships as we have the past decade,” added Grzesk. “The kids who have come through have been high-character kids. It’s not easy to win a regular season, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to accomplish that feat. We have to keep fine-tuning what we are doing and have everybody playing well leading into the tournament.”
Beloit College: 18, 25—43
St. Norbert College: 34, 32—66
Buccaneers: A. Walters 10, Shoup 9, M. Walters 6, Anderson 5, Polakoski 4, Toepfer 4, Jones 3, Babb 2.
Green Knights: Murphy 18, Bolwerk 10, Ciriacks 9, Geenen 8, Beirne 5, Curtis 4, Payant 3, Nicklaus 3, Petitt 2, Davis 2, Verstegen 2.