Rams fall short in championship battle, 59-54
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St. Norbert
Women's Basketball - Sat, Feb. 25, 2017

MOUNT VERNON – A Midwest Conference championship battle boiled down to the final seconds Saturday with St. Norbert staving off a late Cornell charge for a 59-54 victory in the women's basketball tournament final inside the Small Multi-Sport Center.

Coach Brent Brase's top-seeded Rams concluded a terrific season at 20-5 overall, tying for the second-most wins in program history. Cornell, the MWC's outright regular-season champion, bowed out to St. Norbert in the title tilt for the third consecutive year.  

The No. 2 seed Green Knights (20-5) claimed their fourth straight tourney crown and received the MWC's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament March 3-4.

Cornell was in control most of the game and didn't trail until the fourth quarter. The Green Knights used a 10-2 spurt midway through the final period to pull ahead 53-44.

But the Rams had one last run in them, fueled by the hot hand of Sierra Bisso (SR/Wheaton, Ill.). The school's single-season record holder for 3-point goals, Bisso buried a three and subsequent free throw for a rare four-point play that brought Cornell within 53-49 with 2:10 remaining.

Moments later, Bisso cut the deficit to 55-54 with another deep 3-pointer with 42 seconds to go. The Green Knights misfired twice on the ensuing possession, but converted a putback on the second offensive rebound to stretch the margin to 57-54.

The Rams called timeout in their front court with nine seconds left, although never got a shot at a potential tying three. St. Norbert's Mallory Nickerson came away with a steal off a deflected Ram pass and sank two free throws to seal the game.    

Cornell was dealt only its second loss since mid-December, both coming against the Green Knights who now roll into the NCAAs having won 17 of their last 18 games.

The Rams led 19-14 after one quarter and 34-27 at intermission. St. Norbert's defense and size were factors in the second half, limiting Cornell to 4-of-17 shooting over the final 20 minutes. The Green Knights held a 42-16 advantage in points scored in the paint.  

Bisso paced Cornell's scorers with 12 points and three 3-point goals. Diamond Boyd (SR/Elk Grove Village, Ill.) had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. Madie Rinehart (SR/Scottsdale, Ariz.) added seven points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. The team's three seniors guided the program to 74 victories and a pair of MWC regular-season titles over four years.

Haley Grana (JR/Belvidere, Ill.) and Anne Visser (FR/Cedar Rapids, Iowa) pitched in 11 and nine points, respectively, for the Rams. Tal Neilly (JR/Windsor Heights, Iowa) grabbed six rebounds.

St. Norbert College 20-51413131959
Cornell College 20-5191561454
Feb. 25, 2017
Mount Vernon, Iowa (Multi-Sport Center)
Attendance: 905
St. Norbert CollegeIndv. LeadersCornell College
2 Players (#40,#33) - 13Points #05 Sierra Bisso - 12
#21 Regan Carmichael - 7Rebounds #14 Madie Rinehart - 9
2 Players (#13,#21) - 4Assists #05 Sierra Bisso - 4
St. Norbert CollegeTeam StatisticsCornell College
43.9% (25 - 57) Field Goals % 37.2% (16 - 43)
28.6% (4 - 14) 3 Point Field Goals % 46.7% (7 - 15)
71.4% (5 - 7) Free Throws 83.3% (15 - 18)
31Rebounds 30
18Assists 10
11Turnovers 17
72nd Chance Pts 13