Comeback keeps LU Men’s basketball in title hunt

Andy York

The Lawrence University Men’s Basketball team had to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit, but did so to win 83-77 at Carroll last Saturday. The win keeps the Vikings in pace with Grinnell in the standings. The Vikings will win a share of the MWC crown with a victory Saturday at St. Norbert.

The Vikings started off slow. Carroll jumped all over the Vikings from behind the three-point arc.

With Pioneer star player Julien Swartz out with the flu, the Pioneers went to the outside to shoot. The Pioneers went 7-13 from behind the arc in the first half, and took advantage of the Vikings’ 38 percent shooting percentage.

Carroll had their lead up to as much as 16 in the first half before the Vikings chipped it down to 11 for a score of 40-29 at halftime.

Vikings coach John Tharp must have gotten to his team somehow in the locker room, because the Vikings came out in the second half with a new intensity and fire.

The Vikings started off the second half with a 14-2 run, and took their first lead since 2-0 at 43-42.

The Pioneers took control again, albeit briefly. Carroll took a four-point lead, and that lasted about three minutes before the Vikings struck again.

Carroll took their last lead with 7:08 to go in the game, but that would be all for the Pioneers as the Vikings controlled down the stretch.

Improving on their performance against Illinois College on Feb. 8, the Vikings hit their free throws in the second half.

The Vikings went 17-19 in the second half from the charity stripe to cruise into an 83-77 victory.

Rob Nenahlo led the Vikings. The junior guard had 19 points, including a remarkable 12 out of 12 from the free throw line. Chris Braier had 18 and Jason Hollinbeck had 13 to round out the Viking scorers in double figures.

Kevin Lauer, who has a game high 20 points, led Carroll.

The Vikings remain tied with Grinnell for first place in the MWC with only tomorrow’s season finale against St. Norbert remaining. If the Vikings win, they assure themselves a share of the MWC Crown, their first since 1996-97.

The Vikings will be the second seed in the MWC Tournament if both LU and Grinnell win Saturday, because Grinnell holds the tiebreaker over the Vikings by virtue of their 150-149 triple overtime victory.

If LU wins and Illinois College wins at Grinnell, the Vikings would win the MWC outright and the tournament would be here at Alexander Gym next weekend.

The Vikings’ regular season finale takes place at 4:00 p.m. at St. Norbert tomorrow.