GREEN BAY (SNC Athletics)- St. Norbert College had a big start to the second half and used it as the impetus to an 81-53 win over UW-Stout in the championship game of the 13th Annual Nicolet National Bank Holiday Tournament at Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center.
The Green Knights (7-2) won their seventh consecutive game en route to their sixth Nicolet National Bank Tournament championship. The victory also gave St. Norbert a 3-0 record against the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this season.
Joe Ciriacks was named Tournament Most Valuable Player with 22 points, and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by teammates Wade Geenen and Nolan Beirne. UW-Stout's Jon Ciriacks was also selected to the All-Tournament Team along with UW-Superior's Vid Milenkovic and Edgewood College's Avery Lyons.
St. Norbert held a tenuous 32-30 halftime lead before breaking things open over the first 11 1/2 minutes of the second half, going on a 26-5 run to take a 58-35 lead with 8:35 left to play. Neither team scored the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second half until Ciriacks got things going with a 3-pointer at the 35-30 mark. Connor Curtis then had a breakaway dunk a possession later, and Jared Murphy followed with a conventional three-point play to give the Green Knights a 40-30 lead with 15:23 left. Ciriacks had a 3-pointer and then a pair of free throws at 8:50 and 8:35, respectively, to finish off the run.
Stout (4-7) cut its deficit to 58-37 with 8:26, but would get no closer the rest of the way.
The Green Knights opened the game with a 10-2 lead and eventually expanded its lead to 19-9 on a Ciriacks jumper. The Blue Devils got back to within 21-19, but St. Norbert took a 27-19 lead on a Michael Payant 3-pointer with 4:39 left. Stout then went on an 11-0 run to take a 30-27 lead on a Luke Geiger 3-pointer with 1:45 left in the half. The Green Knights scored the last five points of the half to take a 32-30 lead on a Geenen 3-pointer and a Curtis basket.
St. Norbert shot 43.3 percent (26-for-60) from the floor and was 20-for-24 (83.3 percent) at the free-throw line. The Green Knights also held a 45-32 rebounding advantage. Ciriacks was 4-for-9 from beyond the three-point arc, while Geenen added 13 points.