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WISCONSIN DELLS - Lawrence University shot 50% from the field and the Lakeland College men's basketball team was dealt its first loss of the season in an 80-73 setback Tuesday night in the first round of the JustAGame Winter Classic at JustAGame Fieldhouse.
The Muskies dropped down into the tournament consolation game against Viterbo University Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., while Lawrence (5-5 overall) advanced to the championship game against Ashford (Iowa) University. Ashford defeated Viterbo 55-52 in the tourney's first game Tuesday.
The Muskies lost for the first time in eight games, missing the chance to stand alone with the best start in school history after tying the previous mark set in 1972-73. Lakeland was unable to live up to its lofty offensive standards, shooting 42.4% (28-of-66) and turning the ball over 16 times.
The Muskies received customary big games from Jake Schwarz (Sr.-Sheboygan, Wis.) and Justin Ward (Jr.-Wisconsin Dells, Wis.). Schwarz finished with 25 points and nine rebounds and Ward added 24 points and 10 boards. No teammate scored more than seven points, though, and the rest of the team combined to shoot 9-of-28.
Despite its struggles, Lakeland still had a chance to win the game after narrowing a 16-point deficit to three when Ward scored on a lay-in to make it 69-66 with 3:09 left. Both teams traded empty trips, and the Vikings seemed set for another when the game turned on an inbounds play.
With three seconds on the shot clock and the ball under his own basket, Chris Siebert inbounded the ball off the back of Joey Burris (So.-Kiel, Wis.), grabbed it and and was ruled to have established position inbounds before scoring and getting fouled, and he converted the three-point play to make it 72-66. The Muskies never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Lakeland trailed most of the game, leading only by a point in the early going before Lawrence went ahead. The Vikings used a 9-0 run late in the first half to take control and led 36-26 at halftime.
Schwarz shot the Muskies back into it early in the second half, hitting three quick three-pointers as Lakeland got within 40-37 after Burris hit two free throws with 17:19 to play. The Muskies went cold, though, and the Vikings went on a 14-2 run over 3:46 for a 54-39 lead. Lawrence eventually led by 16 points on three occasions.
Siebert led Lawrence with 23 points while Connor Klusendorf added 20 points. The Vikings shot 27-of-54 and also made 21 of 30 from the line (70.0%). Lawrence also out-rebounded Lakeland 37-34.