Freshman guard Sean Espinosa led his squad with 20 points, four assists, and three steals but the Forester men's basketball team was defeated 87-81 at Monmouth College Friday night in the semifinals of the Midwest Conference Tournament.
Espinosa connected on eight of 12 field goal attempts, including three of four from three-point range. He finished his first season with 132 assists, the second-highest total in program history behind Patrick Hanley's 140 in 2009-10.
Four other Foresters joined Espinosa in double figures. Junior guard Jordan Moran and sophomore guard Aram Arslanian each had 16 and they combined for 13 rebounds. Moran was especially efficient, shooting 6-for-7 from the field and 4-for-5 from the foul line in the contest. Junior forward Danny Sotos was next on the team with 13 points while senior guard Eric Porter added 10. Porter completed his time as a Forester ranked second in team annals with 218 career three-pointers and 17th with 1,034 points. The teams other senior, forward Orlando Brown, finished as the fourth-most accurate shooting in school history with a career field goal percentage of .581.
After shooting a blistering 61.1 percent from the field in the first half, Lake Forest finished the game at just 52.2 percent. The visitors out-rebounded Monmouth 39-35 but were outscored 21-12 on three-pointers and 20-5 from the foul line. The Foresters' 12 turnovers on the night were their highest total since committing 13 at Monmouth on January 20.
Lake Forest jumped out to a 22-10 lead after nine minutes of play. After the Fighting Scots pulled back to within five, the visitors used a 10-3 run to regain a double-digit advantage. The margin reached as many as 16 points at 48-32 before the home team accounted for 10 of the final 12 points of the period to make the score 50-42 at halftime.
The Foresters led by as many as a dozen early in the second half and were ahead 60-51 before the Scots rattled off 13 consecutive points to take the lead. After falling behind by seven, Lake Forest closed to within just two points three times in the next three minutes but got no closer. Monmouth was just 3-for-10 from the free throw line in the game's final 75 seconds but the visitors were unable to take advantage, scoring just two points during that span.
Lake Forest finished the season with a 17 victories, the third-highest total in team history, and nine losses. Monmouth advances to Saturday's tournament final at 19-7.
Porter and Brown are the Foresters' only two seniors.