Grinnell men's basketball team hands St. Norbert first league loss

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GRINNELL, Iowa – St. Norbert College's men's basketball team entered Darby Gymnasium with an unblemished conference record Friday night.
Grinnell College saw to it the Green Knights didn't leave that way.
The Pioneers built a lead and held off numerous St. Norbert charges to come away with a 102-96 victory before a large and enthusiastic crowd. With the win, Grinnell moved within a half-game of the Green Knights in the Midwest Conference at 10-2 while improving to 14-4 overall. The conference mark is Grinnell's best since the 2011-12 campaign, while the overall record is the team's best since 2013-14.
Ky-Sean Johnson '19 had the sharp eye for the Pioneers, hitting 5-of-9 shots from 3-point land while scoring a game-high 23 points. He also had three steals.
Hannes Kogelnik '21 added 19 points and Jackson Qualley '22 and Patrick Simms '22 scored 17 each. Simms' was a career high. Qualley also had six assists and six rebounds, Derek Jones '21 tallied a career-best three assists and Brad Geiman '21 swatted away four shots.
St. Norbert scored the first four points, but Grinnell came back with a flurry and went up by 11 at 27-16 on Johnson's layup. The Pioneers built 11-point leads twice more before going into the locker room with a 44-39 edge.
Grinnell built a 14-point lead at 57-43 with 16:33 left when Kogelnik connected on a 3-pointer, but then the Green Knights slowly came back. They eventually drew even at 82-all on a 3-pointer with 4:58 to go. But Johnson countered with a trey of his own to push Grinnell up 85-82.
St. Norbert forced another tie at 85-all when Qualley connected from long range. St. Norbert cut the gap to one after that, but Christian Brookens '22 sank a free throw and Simms added a layup to make it 91-87 with 2:43 left.
The Green Knights – 10-1 in the MWC and 12-6 overall - made one last charge, coming within 91-89 with 1:49 left. But Curta followed with a critical layup-and-one with 1:35 left to make it a five-point lead. Qualley helped seal the deal by going 6-of-6 on free throws down the stretch.
The Pioneers will attempt to avenge an earlier loss to Ripon College when the Red Hawks visit Darby Gymnasium Saturday. Tip-off is at 3 p.m.