Men’s basketball team falls short in IIAC Tournament
After a thrilling senior day victory over Simpson two weeks ago, the men’s basketball team fell 84-79 to Central in the opening round of the IIAC Tournament.
The Dutch garnered an early advantage over the Duhawks by sinking five 3-pointers in the first half. Loras held on, however, with the help of a combined 17 points from senior Mirko Grcic and freshman Ryan DiCanio. This left the Duhawks trailing 32-25 at halftime.
Unfortunately, Central picked up steam in the second half as two of their players scored 17 points apiece. Even though Grcic finished with one of his best performances all season (32 points, nine rebounds), it was not enough as the Dutch’s bench outperformed the Duhawks. A 20-4 difference in bench points ultimately determined the deficit as Central topped Loras.
The team finished the season with a 13-13 overall record and were 8-6 in conference. Despite the fact that the season ended earlier than hoped, the team still improved from their 10-15 record last season. Additionally, even though this was not the preferred outcome, there were still a lot of highlights from the team’s 2015-16 campaign.
Loras won both their home-opener against Edgewood and their conference-opener against Coe. The team completed season sweeps against Coe, Buena Vista and Luther. The men were hot at home this year as they finished with a 10-4 record considering the games played on Lillis Court. The Duhawks also ended the regular season on a high note, topping Simpson by two points on senior day after falling to them 78-60 earlier in the season.
In addition to this team success, there were also individual accolades members of the team claimed. Freshman Michael Mims led the conference in 3-point field goal percentage with a .474 clip from behind the arc. Junior Justin VanWambeke and Grcic ranked fourth and fifth in scoring with 19.7 and 17.9 points per game, respectively. Grcic also ranked fourth in rebounding, hauling in 8.3 boards per game. He secured an IIAC Player of the Week honor for his consistently impressive performances.
No matter the end result of the season, head coach Greg Gorton is proud of what his team accomplished. He is especially thankful for the group of seniors and what they have provided the program over the last four years.
“Our seniors have been a gift to me. They’ve done everything I’ve ever asked them to do through tough times and lots of adversity. They handle themselves with class on campus and with nothing but grace in our community,” Gorton said after the team’s final game on Thursday.
While the seniors were a crucial element to the team, they are leaving the program in good hands. Under the leadership of VanWambeke and with the help of a deep pool of talent, the Duhawks will definitely be a strong contender next season. The role is open for anyone to step up, take charge, and do work.
“The future is bright in our program. We have six freshmen in our top 11 players. All year we were learning lessons and teaching these freshmen to play at a college level, and we have a bright future with these guys. Although it’s hard to say goodbye to our seniors, the cupboard is certainly not bare. I’m proud of our guys and always will be,” said Gorton.