Feb. 24, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

Lawrence University claimed its second straight Midwest Conference regular season championship, and fifth in the last six years, as the Vikings stretched their winning streak to seven games with a pair of league wins last weekend.

Senior guard Jayce Apelgren averaged 22 points on 75 percent shooting from the floor for the week, highlighted by a career-best 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field in a 97-75 victory at Ripon.  The native of Waterford, Wis., was perfect on 10 free throws and averaged 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, earning MWC Player of the Week honors for his efforts.

The Vikings cracked the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 at No. 25 this week, and look to continue their winning ways as the top seed in the MWC tournament.  They face Carroll University in the championship semifinals Feb. 27.

HISTORY MADE: Puget Sound made Northwest Conference history as the Loggers turned in the first-ever 16-0 season in league history after a thrilling 75-74 win over Willamette on Feb. 21.  Antwan Williams secured the win with a pair of free throws with just eight seconds remaining in regulation.

The Loggers have won 18 straight games, and moved up to No. 3 in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 after completing a perfect NWC slate.

Puget Sound will host a NWC tournament game for the fourth straight season as they welcome Lewis & Clark on Feb. 26 in the opening round.

HE’S THE BOMB:  Ithaca College’s Sean Burton collected his third Empire 8 Player of the Week award, and second straight, after sparking the Bombers to a pair of wins and the top seed in the league tournament last week.

The native of Yorkville, N.Y., notched a pair of back-to-back 32 points games in victories against Nazareth and Rochester Institute of Technology.  Burton also tallied double-digit assists in both games with 13 and 10, respectively, as he recorded his sixth and seventh double-doubles of the season.  Burton shot 63 perfect from the floor and 58 percent from three-point range on the week.  Last season’s Empire 8 Player of the Year, Burton is the school’s all-time leader in assists and three-pointers. 

The No. 8 Bombers are riding an eight-game winning streak entering the Empire 8 Tournament.  They will host Nazareth in the semifinals Feb. 28.

BLAZING THROUGH: Elms College claimed the top seed in the inaugural New England Collegiate Conference tournament after posting a perfect 14-0 mark in regular season action. 

With a convincing 108-86 win over Newbury College to conclude the regular season, the No. 12 Blazers set a program record with their 24th victory of the year.  They also matched a school record with 14 consecutive wins.

The NECC, currently in its first season, will not receive an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Championship until the 2010-11 season. All NECC teams, however, are still eligible for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament through both Pool B and Pool C.

NOTABLE:  Bethany’s Lance Beckwith was named Presidents’ Athletic Conference Player of the Week after averaging 30.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in a 2-0 week as the Bison earned the No. 2 seed in the league tournament.  The freshman guard from Raleigh, N.C., exploded for a career-best 34 points against Washington & Jefferson … Wheaton (Ill.) captured its first College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin regular season title since the 1998-99 season after completing the schedule with a 70-60 victory over North Central on Feb. 21.  Senior Kent Raymond led all scorers with 29 points as the Thunder also earned the right to host the CCIW Tournament on Feb. 27-28.  They will entertain North Central for a rematch on Friday.