Vikings beat Norberts and IC but can’t crack “the system

Phil Roy

Lawrence started its weekend action by playing host to the awkwardly named “Blue Boys” of Illinois College on Friday night.
The contest was tight through much of the first half despite the Vikings shooting over 66 percent from the field. One Viking in particular seemed to be on a mission as the weekend’s action tipped off.
Junior Andy Hurley put a check in every statistical category as he amassed five points, two rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in just the first four minutes. Hurley’s classmate and roommate checked in to the game late in the first half with the teams deadlocked and scored five straight to put the Vikings on top 42-35 at the end of the half.
Sophomore Chris Page continued his impressive form from the previous weekend as he piled on a team-high 18 points, including 14 in the second half, as the Vikings cruised to a 79-67 victory.
Coming off of the win-Coach Tharp’s 200th-the Vikings had to quickly jump back into “freak mode” as they attempted to prevent a Grinnell sweep Saturday afternoon.
Grinnell didn’t fail to entertain the crowd at Alex Gym as they kept every Viking surge in check with their run ‘n’ gun play.
Lawrence struggled against the Pioneer defensive press, and committed 13 turnovers in the first half alone as they held onto a slim one-point lead going into the break.
The Vikings looked more comfortable in the second half as the guards evaded the full-court pressure and found the open man in the paint on five straight possessions.
Unfortunately, the Pioneers had also found a comfort zone . behind the arc. Grinnell shot 12-17 from 3-point range in the second half and saw the game enter the final minute with a two-point lead.
The Vikings, who hadn’t attempted a single shot from outside the paint all game, missed three in row from 3-point-range as they fell to “the system” a second time, and gave up their first home conference loss since 2005.
Hurley piled on a career-high 33 points in the loss, and Ryan Kroeger added 21and a game-high eight assists.
The Vikings had just three days to rest after the loss before taking on the Green Knights of St. Norbert in a vital conference game Tuesday.
St. Norbert stood alone at the No. 2 spot in the conference going into Tuesday’s contest, with the Vikings trying to break the three-way tie for third. Lawrence led through most of the low-scoring first half, as both teams struggled to find any offensive rhythm.
Lawrence was converting a little over 40 percent from the floor, a good 12 percent below their league-leading season average. Junior guard Ben Rosenblatt kept the Green Knights at bay, however, scoring 11 in the first period, including three from 3-point range.
The Vikings returned from the locker room with a four-point lead but the Lawrence starters turned on the engine early in the second half as they extended the lead to 12 with a little over three minutes run off the clock.
Some hot outside shooting by the Green Knights, however, pulled the game back to even as it entered the final stretch. Some impressive defensive stops by the Vikings, who were boosted by pressure on Norbert’s post players by Andy Hurley and Matt Osland, ensured that Lawrence held out for the 55-49 win.
Rosenblatt ended the day with a career-high 21 points, including 4 for 6 from behind the arc. Andy Hurley recorded his fifth double-double of the season.