Monmouth swept perennial Midwest Conference power St. Norbert for the first time since the 2004-05 season with a 65-56 win in DePere, Wis., and sits tied with Lake Forest for the MWC lead with four games to play.
Entering the weekend, the MWC was in a logjam atop the standings with Monmouth, Lake Forest, St. Norbert and Ripon knotted at 10-3 and the top four teams meeting Saturday afternoon – Monmouth at St. Norbert and Ripon at Lake Forest.
The Scots led by 17, 36-19 at the half, but had to hit their free throws in the final minute to hold off the Green Knights. St. Norbert chipped away in the second half, cutting the margin to one, 54-53 with 2:46 to play. A layup followed by Paul Engo III to start a 10-0 run to ice the game. Nursing a 60-53 lead with 30 seconds to play, Justin Aluya drained a pair of free throws and followed with two more on the next possession to move the Scots to 11-3 in the league, mintutes later Lake Forest finished off Ripon 69-64.
D.J. Swift scored 11 of his team-high 13 points in the first half as Monmouth opened up a sizable lead, hitting 15 of their 32 shots while holding the Knights to 8 of 28 on their home court.
The Scots and Foresters are now knotted for the top spot while the Red Hawks and Green Knights are deadlocked a game back of the leaders. Monmouth and Ripon have wrapped up their series with the top four contenders. Lake Forest and St. Norbert begin their series Wednesday at St. Norbert.
Carley Turnbull posted her third double-double in four games as Monmouth jumped on top of St. Norbert early, but was clipped at the end 57-47.
Looking for their first win over the Green Knights since an overtime victory in 2015, the Scots took a 26-17 lead into the locker room at halftime. Leading 15-10 at the end of the first quarter, the Scots briefly pushed ahead by 10 midway through the second frame on layups by Tia Robertson and Shayne Smith. Robertson added another bucket in the lane to open the second half before the Knights began to chip away. Trailing by three, 37-34 with less than a minute left in the third quarter, Turnbull sent inside to cut the deficit to one, 37-36.
The Scots then stayed within two possessions until St.Norbert began to hit their free throws in the final two minutes. The Knights iced the game going 4 for 4 from the line in the final 42 seconds.
Turnbull pumped in 14 points and pulled down 11 boards – 10 off the defensive glass.
Monmouth returns home to host Eureka College Monday night at 7:30.