The Lawrence University men’s basketball team continued its recent behavior by splitting a pair of conference games last week. The Vikings hosted the Carroll University Pioneers Jan. 23 and took the loss 74-68.
Jan. 26, Lawrence traveled back to Illinois to take on the Monmouth College Fighting Scots and emerged victorious 87-73. The Vikings have an overall record of 8-9 with a 6-6 record in the Midwest Conference. Both records are accurate as of Jan. 28.
Against Carroll, Lawrence maintained the lead during most of the first half before distancing themselves right before halftime. Three-pointers from junior guard Chris Siebert and sophomore forward Andrew Borresen as well as a layup from freshman Jamie Nikitas on consecutive possessions extended a two-point lead to a ten-point lead for the Vikings.
However, the second half belonged solely to the Pioneers as the Vikings lost the lead with nine minutes left in the second half and could not get it back. Carroll exploded for 46 points during the second half while notching a field goal percentage 56.7 percent.
Lawrence went cold after halftime, only making three of their 14 three-point attempts. Sophomore guard Ryan DePouw led the Vikings with 15 points and junior forward Tyler Mazur chipped in 13. Senior forward Conor Klusendorf recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 total rebounds.
Three days later, the Vikings continued what they have done all season by coming back strong after a tough loss. Despite falling behind by 11 points against Monmouth a few minutes into the game, Lawrence fought their way back.
As the Vikings led by one point with two minutes left in the first half, Siebert hit a jumper which was followed by a three pointer from Nikitas to give Lawrence a six-point lead at halftime. The Vikings never looked back as they shot 50 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three-point range, to keep the Fighting Scots behind.
Lawrence came through in the clutch at the free throw line, hitting 31 out of their 35 attempts and taking advantage of Monmouth’s foul troubles. Siebert had a career day as he recorded 30 points and went a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line. DePouw and Nikitas both played well for the Vikings as they scored 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Lawrence has continued to keep itself in contention for the postseason by following up losses with terrific wins.
“It just goes to show how resilient we are,” commented Klusendorf. “We talk about it every practice. It’s a process; you have to play each game and can’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. We can bounce back like that because we take it one game at a time.”
Despite the .500 record, the Vikings do have some control over making the Midwest Conference postseason tournament. With a handful of critical games left, pulling out wins is more important than ever.
“I think we have all the tools necessary to make the postseason,” added senior forward Scott Beauchamp. “It’s just a matter of us putting them all together for 40 minutes. We have shown flashes this year, but if we can finally put together a total effort, then we have a great chance to make the postseason.”
Lawrence hosts Illinois College Feb. 2 and Beloit College Feb. 6, both games at Alexander Gymnasium.