College Basketball: Lewis programs on cusp of history
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media March 5, 2013 9:52PM
Lewis sophomore Ryan Jackson, a Bolingbrook native, dribbles out of trouble in a GLVC first-round tourney win over Quincy. | Jeff Vorva~For Sun-Times Media
Best season ever?
Lewis’ men’s and women’s basketball teams enter the Great Lakes Valley Conference quarterfinals with a combined 40-13 mark (.755 winning percentage). Here are the top five seasons in school history:
YEAR MEN WOMEN TOTAL PCT.
1997-98* 19-9 23-5 42-14 .750
1984-85* 22-8 22-7 44-15 .746
1983-84* 22-8 21-8 43-15 .729
2006-07 15-13 28-4 43-17 .717
1988-89 19-9 20-8 39-17 .696
* Both teams qualified for NCAA Division II Tournament
Updated: April 7, 2013 6:30AM
Lewis University has a shot at having the best overall basketball season in the school’s history.
As the men’s and women’s teams head into Thursday’s action in the Great Lakes Valley Tournament in Evansville, Ind., the women have a 21-5 record while the men are 19-8 for a combined mark of 40-13. If they keep up the .775 winning percentage, the Flyers’ hoop stars will break the 1997-98 mark of .750.
Both teams also are hoping to qualify for the NCAA Division II Tournament in the same season for the fourth time in school history and the first time since 1998.
Good showings in the GLVC Tournament should help make that happen.
The sixth-seeded men’s team will try to win the league title at 8:30 p.m. Thursday with a game against third-seeded Southern Indiana (20-6) at the Ford Center in Evansville.
The Flyers split with Southern Indiana during the season, suffering a 65-64 home loss Jan. 26 and winning 63-59 on the road Feb. 7.
Lewis has the youngest roster in the league. With two wins over second-seeded UW Parkside and a split with Southern Indiana, the Flyers know they can play with the big boys.
However, with a nine-man rotation featuring one senior, one junior, five sophomores and two freshmen, consistency has been a problem for coach Scott Trost’s team. But freshman center Brad Foster (Lincoln-Way Central) said that’s changing — and the Flyers’ five-game winning streak backs him up.
“Inconsistency is always a thing with a young team,” Foster said. “But coach says you can’t make an excuse being a young team. We still have high expectations. If we have a bad game, we’ve been able to bounce back stronger.”
The Flyers reached the quarterfinals with a 73-65 victory Sunday over 11th-seeded Quincy in Romeoville. David Bryant led the team with 18 points, including 12 in the final 6:30. Sophomore Ryan Jackson, a Bolingbrook native who averages a team-high 16 points per game, added 11 points and five rebounds.
The Lewis women, seeded first, received a bye into the quarterfinals and will play eighth-seed Missouri S&T (16-11) at 6 p.m. Friday. The Miners, who were on a six-game losing skid at the time, beat Lewis 69-62 on Jan. 5.
Like the men’s team, the Flyers women enter Friday’s contest with a five-game winning streak.
Sophomore Jess Reinhart leads the Flyers in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per game while hauling down 7.0 rebounds per contest. Senior Labrenthia Murdock is averaging 11.5 points per game and senior Sam Rinehart chips in with 11.2. The women’s team is not as young as the men’s, but with sophomores Nikki Nellen and Kristin Itschner added to the starting mix, it’s not exactly a veteran squad.
“We have a couple of seniors playing the best basketball of their careers,” Lewis coach Lisa Carlsen said in February after the Flyers earned a national ranking for the first time this season. “The core of our team is sophomores. Those kids were given an opportunity as freshmen to get game experience, and that’s really what has paid off this year.”