Red-hot Knights rally past Pioneers in championship game of holiday tournament

Red-hot Knights rally past Pioneers in championship game of holiday tournament

GREEN BAY — St. Norbert College outscored the University of Wisconsin–Platteville men's basketball team 45–31 in the second half to rally from a seven-point halftime deficit to win the championship game of the Nicolet National Bank Holiday Tournament 63–56 Friday night at UW–Green Bay's Kress Events Center.

After shooting a dismal 25.9 percent (7 of 27) in the first half, including 1 of 9 from 3-point land, the Green Knights caught fire in the final 20 minutes. St. Norbert made 7 of 12 from beyond the arc and shot 52 percent from the floor to flip a 25–19 halftime deficit into a seven-point non-conference win.

Connor Curtis scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the second half and only missed one shot all night. He finished 6 of 7 and was a perfect 3 of 3 on 3-pointers and 4 of 4 at the line. D.J. DeValk added 18 points, six assists and three rebounds, and Ben Bobinski added 10 points off the bench for the winners.

Junior guard Trey Sigel (Rock Island, Ill.) scored a team-high 13 points and had two rebounds to lead the Pioneers. No other UW–Plattteville player reached double figures in the loss.

Junior Jake Showalter (Germantown) had nine points off the bench, while senior forward Cory Vaassen (Dickeyville/Cuba City) had a nice all around game with eight points, nine rebounds and six assists. Sophomore Robert Duax (Dubuque/Hempstead) had seven points and four boards.

The Pioneers (7–4) led by as many as nine points at 27–18 when junior guard Matt Oestreich hit a jumper a minute into the second half. UWP regained a nine-point lead when sophomore center Clay Gerds (Fort Atkinson) made a 3-pointer at the 16:43 mark to make it 30–21.

Then the Green Knights started raining jump shots. A Terrence Gerner jumper trimmed the lead to seven and DeValk connected from the outside on the next trip down floor.

Sophomore Dan Lowe's (Byron, Ill.) layup pushed the Pioneer lead back to seven at 32–25, but St. Norbert scored on seven of its next eight possessions in a game-changing 19–6 run. Conner hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Green Knight the lead and DeValk added a pair of free throws the next possession to make it 44–38 with seven minutes left in the game.

The Pioneers got as close as five points on a couple of occasions in the final three minutes, but St. Norbert made 6 of 7 free throws in the final 1:37 to close out the game.

Coach Jeff Gard's Pioneers will open Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play Wednesday at UW–Stout at 7 p.m. The Blue Devils posted an 8–2 record in non-conference play and most recently won the JustAGame Classic in Wisconsin Dells with a 74–71 victory over Lawrence University on Friday night.


By Jason Nihles, UW–Platteville Athletics