Foresters Claim Midwest Conference Title, Set Program Record for Victories
The Lake Forest College men's basketball team won 72-53 at Monmouth College on Saturday to clinch the 2011-12 Midwest Conference championship. The victory was the Foresters' team record 19th of the season against just two losses and the team is 15-1 in league play.
Grinnell College, the second-place team in the conference standings, was defeated 144-135 at Illinois College. At 13-4 in the league, the Pioneers can no longer catch the Foresters, who will host the 2012 MWC Tournament February 24-25.
Lake Forest senior post player Travis Clark led all players in the contest with 20 points and seven rebounds. He shot 8-for-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from the line while adding two assists, two steals, and two blocked shots.
Senior forward Nate Bateman also reached double figures for the Foresters with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor, which included a 3-for-4 performance from three-point range. Junior point guard Jeff Beck added eight points and dished out a game-high five assists.
Lake Forest shot a season-high 59.2 percent from the floor and made 10 of 14 attempts from beyond the arc. The .714 three-point field goal percentage in the game was the second-highest in program history. The Foresters held the Fighting Scots to 34.5 percent shooting from the field and the home team made just five of 15 three-pointers. Monmouth out-rebounded the visitors 32-28 and committed two fewer turnovers (11-13).
A pair of baskets by Clark and three-pointers by Bateman and sophomore guard James Stack gave the Foresters an early 10-0 lead. Lake Forest led by as many as 19 points in the opening period and 32-17 at halftime.
The Scots pulled to within a dozen points twice early in the second half but got no closer. Back-to-back three-pointers by Bateman and senior guard Chris Roets extended the Forester lead to 25 points with 5:00 to play and the margin reached as many as 28 in the final few minutes.
Monmouth fell to 5-16 overall and 3-13 in league play.
Lake Forest will host Knox College Wednesday night at 7:30. It will be Senior Day and the final regular season home game for Clark, Bateman, Roets, guard David Pilalis, forward Drew Grennell, and post players Dayton Young and Don Duncan. The Foresters will then close out the regular season next Saturday at Grinnell College.