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Both SNC hoops teams headed to NCAA Tournament

It was a great weekend for the St. Norbert College men’s and women’s basketball programs.
Both teams won their tournament championship games to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Brackets for both tournaments will be announced tomorrow afternoon.
SNC men 71, Wisconsin Lutheran College 59
MILWAUKEE – Behind an impressive second-half defensive effort, the St. Norbert College men’s basketball team rallied to a 71-59 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran College in the championship game of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference at Time of Grace Center on Sunday.
St. Norbert (19-7) clinched its 10th NCAA Division III Tournament appearance with the win and the eighth since 2010. The Green Knights also claimed their first conference tournament championship game win on the road since 1984.
The Green Knights appeared to be in dire straits, trailing 36-27 at halftime. St. Norbert then held the Warriors to 23 second-half points to charge back for the win.
Carter Gebler scored the first five points of the second half to cut the deficit to 36-32 with 18:43 left. The Green Knights continued to whittle the deficit down until Evan Glaser’s layup tied the game at 40-40 with 14:10 to go. Wisconsin Lutheran answered with a trey from Jacob Stoltz at the 13:32 mark, but St. Norbert continued to rally with a 9-0 run. Garrett Grzesk’s 3-pointer gave St. Norbert the lead at 45-43 with 11:45 left. Michael Payant and Jamison Nickolai hit baskets for a 49-43 lead with 10:17 to play.
St. Norbert led 51-49 with 6:44 to go and then went on a 6-0 run. Grzesk hit a pair of free throws, Gebler hit a layup and Nickolai hit both ends of a 1-and-1 for a 57-49 lead with 5:23 to go. Stoltz then swished a 3 for Wisconsin Lutheran with 5:12 left to cut it to 57-52, but St. Norbert then went on a 5-0 run. Payant drained a 3-pointer and Glaser made two free throws for a 62-52 lead with 3:27 to go. Wisconsin Lutheran would cut the deficit back to six points, but would get no closer. Nickolai converted all three free-throw attempts after being fouled on a three-point attempt with 1:28 left for a 68-59 lead and effectively seal the outcome.
Wisconsin Lutheran led for most of the first half, erasing a 14-12 deficit midway through the first half by going on a 24-13 run over the final 10 minutes of the period. The Warriors led by 11 late in the first half before Payant’s layup with five seconds left set the teams into the locker room with the Warriors ahead 36-27.
St. Norbert shot 43.1% (22-for-51) from the floor and was 50% (11-for-22) in the second half. Gebler led the Green Knights with 20 points, with 16 coming in the second half. Nickolai had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Payant had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Glaser had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Wisconsin Lutheran shot 31% (22-for-71) for the game and was 8-for-37 (21.6%) in the second half. The Warriors were 6-for-34 (17.6%) from beyond the 3-point arc and 3-for-20 (15%) in the second half. Ryan Broeckel led the Warriors with 22 points.
SNC women 48, Wisconsin Lutheran College 42
DE PERE – A determined second half by the St. Norbert College women’s basketball team led to a comeback and a coveted postseason championship.
The Green Knights rallied from an eight-point deficit in the second quarter with a terrific second half and outlasted Wisconsin Lutheran College 48-42 in the championship game of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Tournament on Connie Tilley Court at Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center on Saturday.
St. Norbert (24-3) clinched its 15th NCAA Division III Tournament appearance and its first since 2017. The Green Knights, playing in their second season in the NACC, have won 16 consecutive games.
The Green Knights overcame a slow start offensively, going just 6-for-23 from the floor in the first half. St. Norbert, which trailed 12-6 after the first quarter, went from the 8:59 mark of the first period to the 8:36 mark of the second quarter without a made field goal. Emma Morrisey’s 3-pointer brought St. Norbert to within 14-9.
Wisconsin Lutheran would then build a 23-15 lead with 4:06 left in the second quarter, but Chloe Gruszynski’s 3-pointer at 3:20 and a coast-to-coast layup by Olivia DeCleene at 2:10 brought the Green Knights to within 24-20 at halftime.
St. Norbert’s defense turned up the intensity to start the third quarter, going on an 11-1 run to open the period. Morrisey finished at the rim 10 seconds into the quarter, while DeCleene’s trey at 7:47 put St. Norbert up 25-24. DeCleene then had a layup at 6:38 for a 27-24 lead which led to the Warriors asking for time. Wisconsin Lutheran split a pair of free throws at 3:45, but Gierczak and Taylor Thiry had consecutive layups for a 31-25 lead with 2:15 to go. The Green Knights led 34-29 at the end of the third quarter thanks to the Warriors going from the 5:30 mark of the second quarter to the 31-second mark of the third quarter – a total of 14:59 – without a field goal.
A 3-pointer by Gruszynski put St. Norbert ahead 39-31 with 7:50 to play, but the only basket in the next four minutes was a layup by Wisconsin Lutheran’s Sam Leisemann with 5:23 left. DeCleene broke the St. Norbert scoring drought at 3:50 with a 3-pointer for a 42-33 lead, the Green Knights’ largest lead of the game. St. Norbert led 44-36 inside 90 seconds left but the Warriors’ Ally Gough found kind iron on a 3-pointer with 1:19 left. Following a St. Norbert turnover, Wisconsin Lutheran’s Haley Ott made it a one-possession game with a jumper with 42 seconds to go.
St. Norbert then turned to DeCleene on the next possession, with her floating teardrop jumper true with 19 seconds left. She converted a conventional three-point play after the shot, effectively sealing the win with a 47-41 lead.
DeCleene led St. Norbert with 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. Fourteen of DeCleene’s points came in the second half, accounting for half of the Green Knights’ 28 points in the final 20 minutes of action. Gruszynski added 10 points and eight rebounds, while Morrisey had nine points.
St. Norbert shot 17-for-52 (32.7%) from the floor but outrebounded the taller Warriors 36-29.
Wisconsin Lutheran shot 14-for-38 (36.8%) from the floor. Leisemann led the Warriors with 12 points and nine rebounds.

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