Senior guard Andrew Toth helped get the Foresters off to a fast start and the Lake Forest College men's basketball team defeated visiting Lawrence University 79-55 on Saturday in a game that decided the last spot in the 2017 Midwest Conference Tournament.
Toth and fellow seniors Mike Rueffer and Jim Schick were honored on the court before their final career home game. Toth then made a three-pointer on the game's opening possession and knocked down two more as the home team jumped out to a 13-6 lead. The margin climbed into double figures on a three-pointer by Forester junior guard Eric Porter with 11:42 on the clock and reached as many as 14 in the first half, which ended with Lake Forest leading 45-35.
Another Porter three-pointer and a pair of free throws by Rueffer early in the second half made it a 15-point game but a 9-2 run by the Vikings trimmed the deficit they faced to just seven mid-way through the period. The Foresters responded with a 23-2 run that included nine points from Rueffer to make the score 79-51 with a little more than a minute to play. The senoirs exited to an ovation with a minute to play and the home team finished off the 24-point victory.
Rueffer scored a game-high 16 points and was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Jordan Moran with 14, sophomore forward Danny Sotos with 13, and Porter with 12. Moran led all players in the game with nine rebounds and Schick added eight as the Foresters doubled up the Vikings 42-21 on the boards.
Lake Forest shot 49 percent from the field in the game while Lawrence was at just 30.4 percent. The Foresters were also 11-for-24 and the Vikings 6-for-25 from beyond tha arc and the teams combined to make 39 of 47 free throws.
Both teams were 10-7 in conference play and tied with Cornell College for third place in the league standings. Cornell held the tiebreaker over Lake Forest and Lawrence so Saturday's winner would clinch a spot in the four-team MWC Tournament while the loser's 2016-17 would come to an end. The Foresters are now 13-10 overall and the Vikings 9-13.
MWC champion St. Norbert College will host the conference tournament next weekend and Lake Forest will take on the Green Knights in the semifinals on Friday. Ripon College will face Cornell in the other semifinal and the winners will play in the tournament final on Saturday with the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament on the line.