Men’s basketball remains top in conference

Douglas McEneaney

It was a good weekend for the men’s basketball team. With two wins over Grinnell and Knox, Lawrence remains the top seed in the conference.Friday brought one of the most anticipated games of the season for the Vikings. To those unfamiliar with the playing style of Grinnell, the Pioneers have a unique, fast-paced press defense with a dynamic three-point shooting offense. Games with Grinnell usually end up close to or above 100 points per team. Grinnell’s success, therefore, is completely reliant on its shooting, which happened to not be there Friday.

The Vikings started the game scoring the first seven points and never looked back. Lawrence led the whole game from the opening basket 31 seconds into the game. Despite the Vikings shooting a below average 46.7 percent from the field in the first half, they cannot complain about the less-than-dismal shooting of the Pioneers. Grinnell shot 19 percent from the field in the first half, which includes the 8.7 percent from three point range (2-23), the strength of the Pioneer offense.

Just when things seemed to be at its worst for Grinnell, with seven minutes left in the half, the Vikings were given free points as the Grinnell coach was given a technical foul. The frustrated Grinnell team played how their coach acted for the remainder of the half.

As the first half concluded, the Vikings had not shot a single three-pointer but yet maintained a solid lead 45-28 and Grinnell had a lot of regrouping to do.

The beginning of the second half was much like the whole first half. The Vikings never let up. With 13.5 minutes left in the game, Grinnell basically waved the white flag. Lawrence continued to play with as much heart as if it were a tied game.

In the second half, Ryan Kroeger (’09) chased down a bouncing ball, clearly heading out of bounds, jumped several feet out of bounds, clutched the ball in his hand and flipped it back into play, clearing the out of bounds line by inches to a teammate.

The Vikings scored seconds later. No fan could forget Andy Hurley’s (’08) monstrous dunk, silencing all hope Grinnell had.

After 40 minutes of game play, the Vikings left the court victorious, 79-55. It was the lowest score total for Grinnell since the 2000 season. A total of 18 players received time in the game, which allowed younger Vikings to gain experience on the court.

Jayce Apelgren (’09) led all scorers with 14 points, a first-time feat for the junior this year. Hurley recorded a double-double, an accomplishment that always deserves some recognition. The Vikings did not make a three-pointer at all during the game, making this the first time that happened this year.

All in all, the victory was sweet as the Vikings remained undefeated in conference heading into Saturday’s game against Knox.

For the Vikings, there is no real difference between Fridays and Saturdays, as far as winning is concerned. The Prairie Dogs of Knox College were no match for our hot-shooting Lawrence Vikings. Knox ended Saturday with a 2-4 record in conference while the Vikes remained the only undefeated team in conference standings.

The Vikings scored first and never lost their lead the entire game. The Vikings shot beautifully from the field, leaving Knox without a real chance at winning. The crowd of almost 800 seemed a little nervous with 9:50 left in the first half when their lead shortened to six points.

The Vikings noticed the Prairie Dogs nipping at their heels and decided to just take over the game. Over the next six minutes, the Vikings went on a 23-4 run. The Vikings shot 56.5 percent from the field, including 10-13 from three-point range and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. Knox was not as fortunate from the field, connecting on 19.2% of their shots, including 0-7 from three point range.

As Knox returned from the locker room, pondering a way to make up their 20-point deficit, the Vikings stuck to their overpowering offense that continued to be too much for Knox to handle in the second half.

At one point, the Prairie Dogs got within 16 points of the Vikings, but that was as close as they could reach. Lawrence led by as many as 38 points in the second half, a familiar scene in Alexander Gymnasium. A total of 19 players contributed to the Lawrence win — the highest number to play in a single game for Vikings all year.
A standout moment occurred late in the second half. With the shot clock approaching 0, Drew Shaw (’10) hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer, falling to the ground for a four-point play. Shaw was rewarded with a standing ovation from Lawrence fans, who applauded the athleticism he displayed.

The Vikings ended the game with a final score of 90-54. They shot 58 percent from the field, including 15-23 from three point range. Knox picked up their shooting significantly but to no avail. The Prairie Dogs finished the game shooting 48.1 percent in the second half and 34 percent for the game.

Jamie DeMatthew (’10) led all with five assists and Ryan Wendel (’08) led the Vikings with a high of five rebounds. John Dekker (’10) led all scorers with 16 points, shooting 4-6 from three-point range. Yui Ueno (’10) also deserves some recognition for his career high 5 points.

The Vikings seem to be the team to beat and show signs of their remarkable memory of two years ago.

Tuesday night, the Vikings tipped-off against 20th ranked UW-Oshkosh at Alex Gym. The Vikes upset the ranked team with a score of 81-78. A fast-paced game, the Vikes thrived with Kroeger sinking 9 of 11 shots and hitting 8 of 9 free throws for a total of 28 points in 28 minutes. Hurley also made a major contribution with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.