Vikings bounce back from hard loss at Ripon

Phil Roy

The Vikings traveled down to the thriving metropolis of Ripon this Saturday for a conference game against the longtime-rival Red Hawks.
Lawrence (6-3, 2-0 MWC) got off to an extremely shaky start, turning the ball over 10 times in as many minutes as the Red Hawks rolled to an early 15-2 lead.
The Vikings got some help off the bench in the form of freshman center Alex Brant and junior guard Erik Megow, who helped trim that lead to just six with a little over five minutes left in the half.
The Red Hawks would keep Lawrence from scoring the rest of the half, however, as they made use of another string of turnovers and some questionable push-off calls to extend the lead to 27-13 going into the locker room.
The Vikings looked determined as the second period got underway, but remained unable to put a dent in Ripon’s double-digit lead. With just under 12 minutes left in the contest, however, senior Matt Osland’s jumper started a 10-0 Viking run that trimmed Ripon’s lead to seven.
The two teams exchanged blows over the next few minutes as the Red Hawks fought hard to quell Lawrence’s second half rally.
Another Osland jumper with 2:05 on the clock brought the Vikings to within four. Ripon’s Bo Johnson, who had a statistically poor night (2-8 fg) but remained his unpleasantly vocal self throughout the encounter, then made his biggest contribution with an offensive rebound after Brian Schmitting’s second missed free throw.
The Red Hawks scored again with under a minute left to make it a three-possession game and effectively put an end to Lawrence’s valiant second-half attempt to avoid its first conference loss of the season.
Lawrence guard Ben Rosenblatt ended the game with 14 points, going 3 for 5 from behind the arc. Junior big-guy Andy Hurley scored 13 and pulled down a game-high seven boards.
The Vikings returned to action three nights later when they took on Beloit College at Alexander Gymnasium.
Lawrence found rhythm early and created scoring opportunities with far more ease than they had over the weekend. Beloit managed to keep their end of the scoreboard ticking as well, thanks to some hot shooting from Buccaneer guard Matt Fieck (10-11 from the field!).
Beloit shot an outstanding 6 of 7 from behind the arc in the first 10 minutes to keep Lawrence’s lead in check. Back-up guards Doug Kadison and Jayce Apelgren saw significant time in the first half and helped put pressure on Beloit’s perimeter play while contributing on the offensive end as well.
The Vikings stayed ahead going into the break with a slim three-point lead. Both teams shot and impressive 50 percent from the field for 69 combined points in the first half.
As the second half got underway, sophomore standout Ryan Kroeger put in an impressive defensive effort, limiting Beloit’s Fieck to only a few touches and just one bucket in ten minutes.
Lawrence’s depth was also on display as the second string helped extend the Viking lead to 10 with a little under 12 minutes left in the contest.
Guard Dustin Lee played some feisty off-the-ball basketball and was an offensive threat on the perimeter. Freshman inside player Alex Brant looked confident and made sure the Vikings remained solid in the paint even with Hurley on the bench.
The Vikings starters returned for the final five minutes of the game as Lawrence returned to winning ways with the 69-57 victory. Andy Hurley finished the game with 12 buckets and 10 rebounds — his third double-double this season — and Kroeger ended with 11 points.
The pick of the deep bench was, undoubtedly, Doug Kadison who contributed 13 points and four assists in his 21 minutes on the floor. A sophomore from Evanston, Illinois, Kadison attributed his numbers to the coaches not losing confidence in him, even at times when his self-confidence seems to slip.
“I had a good talk with Tharp before the game,” said Kadison, “and it always helps when your first couple of shots fall.” The young guard said the team “concentrated on getting back to the basics of LU basketball” in the advent of the loss at Ripon.
“We know we have the talent, we just needed to get back to doing what we do best when we played Beloit, and that’s playing Lawrence ball.”
Asked about the upcoming match-up against the always-entertaining Grinnell Pioneers, Kadison remarked, “Our philosophy changes completely, we don’t play help defense, we’re not allowed to shoot jump shots … its a circus!”
The Vikings are now 7-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play, leaving them second to Ripon in the conference standings going into this weekend’s contests.
Lawrence will travel to Grinnell and Knox this weekend and will return to action at Alexander Gymnasium the following weekend when they host Illinois College and Grinnell.
We wish the Vikes well on their road trip and look forward to an entertaining day come Jan. 20 when the circus comes to town.