Stephani tops 1,000 points as Vikings drop Grinnell in OT

Lawrence's Jeremy Stephani topped 1,000 career points in the Vikings' 106-99 overtime victory over Grinnell.
Lawrence's Jeremy Stephani topped 1,000 career points in the Vikings' 106-99 overtime victory over Grinnell.

APPLETON, Wis. -- Lawrence University men's basketball standout Jeremy Stephani topped 1,000 career points Saturday, and the Vikings dropped Grinnell College 106-99 in overtime at Alexander Gymnasium in a key Midwest Conference game.

Stephani entered the game needing 15 to reach 1,000, and he finished with a double-double of 26 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Stephani becomes the 24th player in Lawrence history to score 1,000 points and currently has 1,011.

Bryce Denham collected 20 points for the Vikings (11-7, 7-5 MWC), and Mason Materna added 14. Quinn Fisher chipped in with 13 points and seven rebounds for Lawrence, and George Mavrakis picked up nine points, including seven in the overtime.

Lawrence's Evan McLaughlin was superb on the defensive end and added six points and eight rebounds. He held the nation's leading scorer, Grinnell's Vinny Curta, more than five points below his season average. Curta scored a game-high 28 points on 10-of-24 shooting from the floor.

Grinnell (11-7, 6-6) trailed 96-92 when Curta was fouled with 35 seconds left in regulation. He made the first free throw and missed the second, but the Pioneers grabbed the rebound and Curta hit a three-pointer to tie it. After the Vikings missed a three-pointer, Curta was fouled with less than a second left, but he missed both free throws and the game went to overtime.

Mavrakis got the Vikings started by scoring the first seven points of the extra period. He got a putback layup and a steal and layup before making three free throws to give the Vikings a 103-96 lead with 2:22 left. Grinnell missed its first eight shots from the floor in the overtime four turnovers during that stretch.

Lawrence then made three free throws in the final 27 seconds to seal the victory. It was Lawrence's defense that proved decisive in the overtime as the Vikings limited Grinnell to 1-for-11 shooting from the floor, including 0-for-7 from beyond the arc, and five turnovers.

The game was tight throughout with Lawrence holding a lead as big as 11 points in the opening half before the Pioneers cut it to 44-38 at the break. The second half was a see-saw affair as Grinnell grabbed its first lead since 2-0 at 49-48.

The Vikings pulled back out to an eight-point edge as Stephani hit a three-pointer to make it 61-53. Grinnell trimmed the lead back to three, but Lawrence quickly pushed the lead back to 80-71 on Abhishek Venkatesh's layup with 6:58 left in regulation.

Grinnell rallied again and took an 83-82 lead on Hannes Kogelnik's three-pointer with 5:36 left. Lawrence countered with a Denham layup to take the lead back, and the Vikings would lead by as many as five points before Grinnell tied it in the final 30 seconds. 

The victory gives Lawrence sole possession of fifth place in the conference, and the Vikings are now two games back of second place with six games to play.