B-Ball climbs to No. 6 in the nation

Mouse Braun

Keven Bradley chose a great time for his Lawrence University basketball career to explode. Bradley scored the final 20 points in Lawrence’s Saturday matinee matchup with rival Ripon College, leading the men to an 83-75 victory and an unprecedented national ranking.
With Alexander Gymnasium packed far past seating capacity, much of the crowd was forced to stand in cramped corners with decent-at-best visibility. LU would not disappoint the blue faithful.
Lawrence led for most of the first half until the Viking bench was called for a technical foul at 2:10 remaining. Ripon’s Bo Johnson hit all four free throws to tie the game at 29. Lawrence held a 33-32 advantage at the half.
With six minutes left in the game, Lawrence held a 68-58 advantage and looked as if they were in control. Brian Schmitting then scored 7 of the next 11 points for Ripon, narrowing Lawrence’s lead to 71-69 with three minutes to play.
Bradley answered back. Thirteen points into his second-half scoring flurry, the senior converted easily the most thrilling shot of the game. Receiving the ball in the corner with only a few seconds remaining on the shot clock, he put up a desperation shot from behind the arc on which he was sent falling to the ground by a foul from Ripon’s Bo Johnson. He made the shot and the free throw for a 4-point play, doubling the Vikings’ lead to 80-72 with 50 seconds remaining.
Bradley scored a game high 33 on 8-8 shooting (5-5 from 3-point range) and 12-15 on free throws. Chris Braier finished with 23 points and 9 boards. Schmitting led the Red Hawks with 20 points.
Bradley’s effort earned him Midwest Conference Player of the Week. He was also named to the d3hoops.com National Team of the Week.
On Tuesday, A pesky Beloit Buccaneers men’s basketball team gave Braier and teammates fits. After Beloit jumped out to a big lead early, Lawrence settled down and prevailed with a 65-61 road victory.
Just four minutes into the game, Beloit held a 16-4 advantage. John Tharp decided that he had seen enough and called a line change, replacing all five starters. Lawrence’s reserves got the Vikings back into the game and Lawrence held a 33-30 halftime lead.
The teams traded leads throughout the second half, with neither leading by more than 5 points. Beloit’s Josh Hinz hit a 3 with two minutes left to put Beloit up 61-58. Kyle MacGillis answered with a jumper and, after a Beloit turnover, Braier hit a jumper to put the Vikings up by 1 with a minute left to play.
The Vikings then forced a turnover putting Beloit in a must foul situation. Bradley hit both free throw shots to put the Vikings up by 3. Beloit then got four 3-point attempts off in the final 10 seconds, two of them open looks, but could not execute on any of them. Bradley then made a free throw attempt, sealing the victory for Lawrence.
“[Beloit] jumped out on us and made every shot they took,” Braier explained after the game. “Coach Tharp pulled all five starters and by the time [the starters] came back in, we were settled down.”
At halftime, the Vikes thought that their momentum from the end of the first half would carry over and they would run away with the game. Beloit hung close, however, making difficult shot after difficult shot.
Braier stated, “It seemed like we would play great defense, forcing them to go late into the shot clock. They just seemed to make every tough shot to stay close. Beloit played really well.”
Lawrence is ranked No. 6 in the nation in the latest d3hoops.com poll. They host a pair of games this weekend against Grinnell College Friday night at 7:30, and Lake Forest in a Saturday afternoon match up at 4:00.