The Lawrence University Men’s basketball team won two more MWC games this past weekend, but couldn’t stay undefeated forever. Carroll tripped up the Vikings 94-87 Tuesday night for the Vikings first Conference loss.Friday night the stands were packed as the Vikings hosted Illinois College. The game started and both teams played well. The Vikings got a major boost as Garret Ingram, one of the best players in the MWC, was hampered by foul trouble and only played about four minutes in the first half. It was a balance between the inside strength of IC and the outside jump shooting game of Lawrence. While the Blueboys lead most of the first half, the Vikings took the early edge into the second half leading 39-35.
In the second half, LU freshman Chris Braier took over the game. He scored eight points in a row down the stretch and ended up with 21 points and thirteen rebounds. The Vikings found a cure to their free-throw shooting woes. And hit nine out of ten at the end of the game to seal a 75-68 win. Braier was the high scorer, and Jason Hollinbeck’s twelve points also aided the Vikings.
Saturday the Vikings hosted Lake Forest. This game was again close at the half. Both teams shot exceptionally well and were fundamentally sound. The Vikings got the lead out to six points at one time, but the Foresters came back and had closed it to a 36-35 margin at the half.
The Vikings had been in this position many times already this season and were prepared to do it again. The Vikings slowly started to pull away, and then a 10-0 run started with a Brent Vandermause three pointer allowed the Vikings to extend their lead out to seventeen points at 66-49. Lake Forest never could come back, and the Vikings coasted to a 73-60 win. Hollinbeck who erupted for 18 points led the Vikings. Three other Vikings, Brendan Falls, Chris MacGillis and Quentin Herring all had 10 for the Vikings.
Going into Tuesday night’s game against Carroll the Vikings were undefeated in the MWC and were ranked fourth in the Midwest region. However Carroll would change all that in 40 minutes.
The Pioneers came out early and took it to the hole. Carroll was lead by Julian Swartz, who is a former Wisconsin AP High School Player of the Year. He transferred in December to Carroll to be closer to home.
Swartz who has been battling obsessive-compulsive disorder transferred from UW-Green Bay. He also played a season at UW-Madison before that. Swartz showed his Division I talent as he dominated the Vikings inside and shot over them from the outside. He had 17 points at halftime and his Pioneers led the Vikings 36-35 at the half.
The Vikings were killed by turnovers again, having nine at halftime. They had 10 the entire game against Lake Forest. The two teams had a sequence in which they traded three pointers. The Vikings had treys from Hollinbeck and Falls and took the lead at 28-27. However that one point lead would be the biggest the Vikings had all night, and it wouldn’t stay for long.
After the half, the Pioneers went on a roll. The Vikings took the lead one last time at 39-38, but would be looking back at the Pioneers the rest of the game. The Pioneers had their lead up to eleven at one point, but the Vikings continued to fight. They got as close as four with just under a minute left, but couldn’t get the shot they needed to fall, and Carroll put it away. The Pioneers took the win 94-87.
Swartz led the way as he ended up with 34 points and 11 rebounds. The Pioneers also picked up 23 from Ben Hickethier. The Vikings were led by MacGillis, who had 21. The Vikings also picked up 17 from Hollinbeck, 15 from Rob Nenahlo, and 14 apiece from Falls and Braier.
LU coach John Tharp didn’t think his team played as well as they could have.
“We didn’t execute well. We just didn’t play well as a team. They have great individual talent, but we needed to play better team defense, and that would have made a difference,” he said.
The Vikings are now 11-2 overall and 5-1 in the MWC. They are tied for first place, but have the tiebreaker against Ripon because of their head to head win. The Vikings will be on the road this weekend playing at Monmouth Friday night, and Grinnell Saturday afternoon.