APPLETON, Wis. — The Lawrence University men’s basketball team pulled away early in overtime and used clutch free-throw shooting to post a 114-106 Midwest Conference victory over Grinnell College on Saturday at Alexander Gymnasium.
Senior forward Conor Klusendorf, playing in his final game for Lawrence (13-10, 11-7 MWC), led the Vikings with 21 points and he added eight rebounds. Tyler Mazur scored 20 points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds for the Vikings.
Freshman guard Jamie Nikitas added 19 points for the Vikings and was clutch at the foul line in the overtime, going 7-for-8 from the line in the extra period. Ryan DePouw added 18 points and Chris Siebert, who battled foul trouble all afternoon, had 14 points. Brian Gryszkiewicz picked up nine assists and five steals for the Vikings.
Griffin Lentsch paced Grinnell (17-5, 14-4) with 27 points, and Patrick Maher added 25 for the Pioneers. The loss was costly for Grinnell, which lost a share of the Midwest Conference championship and the right to host the conference tournament. St. Norbert College defeated Illinois College on Saturday to win the league title and will host the conference tournament.
Grinnell pulled away late in the first half as the Pioneers broke a 39-39 tie with a 20-6 run for a 59-45 lead. The Vikings recovered in the final minute with baskets from Chase Nelson and Troy Miller to trim the margin to 59-50 at the half.
Grinnell shot 19-for-38 in the first half, including 8-for-17 from beyond the 3-point line. The Pioneers cooled off a bit in the second half, and Lawrence shot itself back into the game.
The Vikings went on a 15-4 run that included three 3-pointers from Siebert, to take a 71-70 lead with 11:28 left in the second half. Lawrence pushed the lead to 88-80 on Mazur’s 3-pointer with 5:10 left, but Grinnell battled back.
The Pioneers went on an 11-1 run, capped by Maher’s 3-pointer, to take a 91-89 lead with 1:54 remaining in the second half. Lawrence got a pair of free throws from DePouw and a steal and layup from Gryszkiewicz to lead 93-91 with 1:11 left.
The Vikings led 95-92 after two Gryszkiewicz free throws with 20 seconds left, but Jesse Ney hit a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to tie it and force the overtime.
Lawrence opened the overtime with a dunk from Klusendorf and a nifty bank shot from Siebert. Klusendorf followed with a layup while Grinnell missed its first three shots from the floor, and the Vikings led 101-95 with 3:21 left.
Joe Rogers hit one free throw for Grinnell, but the Vikings spent the rest of the overtime at the foul line. Lawrence went 11-for-12 from the line in the final 2:47 of overtime to seal the victory.
Grinnell hit just 3-of-12 shots from the floor in the overtime and turned the ball over three times.
Lawrence finished the game 30-of-44 (68.2 percent) from the foul line, and the Vikings shot 58.7 percent (37-63) from the floor.