The Lawrence men’s basketball team had an extremely busy Winter Break as they played nine games between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Vikings went 4-5 during that time, and that puts their overall record, as of Jan. 8, at 5-6 with a 3-3 record in Midwest Conference play.
The Vikings started off the break with a close and tough road win at Illinois College. Sophomore guard Ryan DePouw tallied a career high of 25 points, hitting five shots from three-point range to lead Lawrence to a 78-76 win. Junior guard Chris Siebert contributed 16 points and junior center Davis DeWolfe put in 14 points to pace the scoring. The deciding factor was the shooting percentage, as Lawrence hit 55.2 percent of their shots while holding Illinois College to 42.9.
Three days later, the Vikings had another close game against historic rival Ripon College at Ripon. Unfortunately, Lawrence fell short and took the loss 68-65. After that tough loss, the Vikings took care of business and easily handled Knox College with a decisive score of 81-66. DeWolfe led Lawrence in scoring with 19 points, and senior Conor Klusendorf turned in a solid all-around game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Next up for Lawrence was an away game at Carroll University, yet another game that came down to the wire. Despite trailing by 10 points in the first half, Lawrence came out very strong in the second half and tied it up within the first two minutes.
The game remained close the rest of the way, and the Vikings found themselves on the losing side with a final score of 84-81. Junior forward Tyler Mazur was the star of the game as he poured in 29 points and hit a Lawrence University record of nine three-pointers during the contest. He only missed two shots from beyond the arc.
Just as the Vikings did previously after a tough loss, they came back strong the following game at Cornell College, a new conference member. The Vikings picked up a solid win 79-70. Siebert led Lawrence with 18 points and seven assists, and Klusendorf turned in another versatile performance with 11 points, six rebounds and six steals.
Lawrence then encountered two rough games at Elmhurst College and against St. Norbert College, losing both games with score lines of 76-65 and 70-52, respectively. The Vikings showed their resiliency once again in their next contest, refusing to allow a prolonged losing streak. In the opening game of the Just a Game Winter Classic tournament in Wisconsin Dells, Lawrence defeated Lakeland College 80-73. Siebert put in 23 points, and Klusendorf contributed 20 points. The Vikings were unable to capture the championship game as they fell to Ashford University 68-52, finishing up their schedule for the Winter Break.
The team certainly had its ups and downs during this stretch of games, and the results show a team looking for consistency. Junior guard Tom Antosz commented, “Overall we are disappointed with the results. Going 4-5 was not what we were hoping for. Hopefully the two weeks of rest has done us some good, and we can make a serious run in our remaining games.”
The Vikings’ remaining 12 games for the regular season are all conference games, and the team finds themselves needing to come up with some big wins because of their position in the standings.
Mazur believes they can do it. He added, “The close games were definitely heartbreakers, but they are great opportunities for learning. Our experiences in those games are extremely valuable, and we will need to use that to our advantage in our next close games. There are plenty of games left.”