St. Norbert College may have entered Darby Gymnasium ranked in the nation, but that didn't faze the Grinnell College men's basketball team in the slightest.
The Pioneers burst out to a 40-28 halftime lead and forced 28 total turnovers on their way to a 79-65 victory Saturday over the Green Knights, who are 12th in the latest D3hoops.com national rankings.
Griffin Lentsch '13 scored 18 points on 7-of-11 field goal shooting for the Pioneers, who won for the fifth time in a row while improving to 8-6 in Midwest Conference play and 13-6 in all games. The victory also helps Grinnell in the hunt for a spot in the MWC postseason tourney.
Dominique Bellamy '13 added 14 points for Grinnell, while Alex McDonald '11 and Kale Knisley '11 grabbed five rebounds each. Scott Kaitz '11 recorded two steals, Jack Adams '13 had two blocks and Kaitz, Garrett Nitz '13, Patrick Maher '14 and Brian McManamy '13 had two assists apiece.
David Wipperfurth scored 18 points for the Green Knights, who dipped to 12-3 in the MWC and 16-4 overall.
Grinnell fell behind by five early in the game before roaring back, eventually taking the lead and extending it to 12 by halftime at 40-28. Grinnell forced 18 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
St. Norbert got as close as four twice early in the second half, and still had it at a seven-point game before Grinnell went on a seven-point run to stretch out the lead. Nitz began things with a jumper, Matt Skelly '12 sank a jumper and Matt Chalupa '12 drained a 3-pointer to put the Pioneers ahead 59-45 with 13:23 left.
Grinnell still led by double digits most of the second half before St. Norbert pulled within eight at 71-63 on a jumper by Wipperfurth with 2:18 left.
Neither team scored for the next minute before McManamy made a free throw, and McDonald added a charity shot a bit later to push the Pioneers ahead 73-63.
After St. Norbert came within eight again at the 1:01 mark, Lentsch brought the crowd to its feet with a dunk with :58 left. McDonald tacked on two free throws with :32 left to push the Pioneers ahead 77-65 and Bellamy sank two more with :15 left to finish off the win and send the Pioneers and their fans into celebration.
Grinnell looks to keep things going Wednesday with a game at Monmouth College. Action begins at 7 p.m.