Green Bay outlasts SNC in second half
By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – If an exhibition game is any indication, the St. Norbert College men’s basketball team could have a banner season.
Despite falling 50-45, the Green Knights, a Division III program, took a 22-20 lead into intermission against Division I Green Bay on Tuesday night at the Resch Center.
“We wanted to compete — we’ve only been practicing for (a little more than a week),” St. Norbert coach Gary Grzesk said. “Our effort showed on the defensive end. We’re not in the greatest game shape yet — we started to reach and foul in the second half, but I was happy
with our effort.”
St. Norbert grabbed an 11-5 lead heading into the first media timeout behind a strong start from Michael Payant.
Payant nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game on his way to nine first-half points — despite shooting 3 of 13 from the floor.
Still trailing 11-5, Green Bay’s Garren Davis scored nine of his team’s next 12 points, closing the gap to 18-17 with 7:23 remaining in the first half.
A bucket by Ashwaubenon graduate Kyle Krueger bumped the Green Knights’ lead to 20-17 before Clarence Cummings III tied things at 20-20 on a three-point play.
With the Phoenix going scoreless over the last 2 minutes, 20 seconds of the half, Carter Gebler gave St. Norbert the lead heading into intermission.
Call it bad shooting or good defense, both teams struggled from the field in the first half.
Green Bay shot just 8-for-22 overall (36.4%), including a dismal 3 of 13 (23.1%) from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Phoenix’s shooting woes also carried over to the free-throw line where they were 1-for-6 in the first 20 minutes of play.
The Green Knights shot just 9 of 32 overall (28.1%) in the first half.
It wasn’t until the beginning of the second half Green Bay grabbed some momentum.
Behind a 9-0 run by the Phoenix and a 0-for-9 start from the field by the Green Knights, the Green Bay surged ahead, 29-22.
St. Norbert went the first 7:20 of the second half without scoring.
“The guys were really excited at halftime because they were competitive and in the game, whereas Green Bay was probably a bit disappointed in its first half,” Grzesk said. “We told our guys, ‘Green Bay is going to come out in the second half with a lot of pressure and energy.’ We didn’t quite match the energy at the start of the second half, but then we made some shots and got back in the game.”
The Green Knights responded with their own 5-0 run, highlighted by a Garrett Grzesk 3-pointer from the top of the key to get within 29-27.
Over the next several minutes, the Phoenix bumped their lead to 38-31 behind a 3-pointer from Cummings and six made free throws.
Grzesk, a Notre Dame Academy graduate, converted a three-point play and hit another 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 40-40 with 4:15 remaining.
Sandwiched in between Grzesk’s buckets was a made 3-pointer from St. Norbert’s Jamison Nickolai.
Green Bay ended the game on a 10-5 run, highlighted by another five made free throws when the Green Knights were forced to foul.
The Phoenix committed 15 turnovers and ended the game shooting 35.7% from the field (15 of 42).
St. Norbert struggled mightily from the floor, shooting just 28.6% overall (18 of 63).
Cummings and Davis scored 14 and 11 points, respectively, for Green Bay, while Payant led St. Norbert with 11 points.
Grzesk chipped in nine points.
Coach Grzesk said he’s grateful Green Bay, his alma mater, is willing to play his squad.
“Green Bay has lots to lose (by playing us), and we have lots to gain and nothing to lose,” he said. “I was happy we were competitive, and it came down to the last few possessions.”