Denham rallies Vikings to victory over Illinois College

Lawrence's Bryce Denham (23) scored 19 points and got the final six points of the game to seal a 78-75 win over Illinois College.
Lawrence's Bryce Denham (23) scored 19 points and got the final six points of the game to seal a 78-75 win over Illinois College.

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. -- The Lawrence University men's basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit Saturday to beat Illinois College 78-75 in a Midwest Conference game at Sherman Gymnasium.

The Vikings were down by as many as 13 points in the first half before rallying in a game that featured seven ties and seven lead changes. 

Rookie forward Bryce Denham scored Lawrence's final six points and finished with a team-high 19 points to go with six rebounds. Three other Vikings finished in double figures as Quinn Fisher had 12 points, Jeremy Stephani added 11 and Mason Materna had 10. Evan McLaughlin added eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Vikings (9-5, 5-3 MWC).

Tim Parks led Illinois College (6-9, 1-7) with 24 points and was one of four Blueboys to score in double figures.

Illinois College got off to a hot start and hit nine three-pointers in the first half to build a 41-28 advantage with 3:58 left. Lawrence immediately countered as Stephani and Denham hit back-to-back three-pointers and Denham threw down a dunk to trim the margin to 45-36 at the half.

Lawrence opened the second half on a 10-1 run as Fisher scored seven points and Ben Peterson added a three-pointer to tie it at 46-46. The Vikings were able to build a lead as large as six points, but Illinois College battled back and took the lead for the last time at 73-72 on Max Stutsman's layup with 2:01 remaining.

The teams traded misses before Denham's layup put the Vikings up 74-73 with 43 ticks left. After an Illinois College turnover, Denham got a fastbreak dunk for a 76-73 lead. After a Blueboys miss with eight seconds left, Denham grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He converted both free throws with six seconds left for a 78-73 lead.

Tim Parks got a quick layup for the Blueboys, and the Vikings turned the ball over trying to inbound. Illinois College got off a desperation three-pointer in an attempt to tie but it was well off the mark.

Defense made the difference for the Vikings as they limited Illinois College to just 32.3 percent shooting in the second half. That included 1-for-8 on three-pointers after the Blueboys went 9-for-15 from beyond the arc in the first half.