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Roosevelt Roundup: Lakers struggles continue

After getting off to a great start to its 2013-14 campaign with an 11-3 mark, the Roosevelt University men’s basketball team has been mired in a recent slump, dropping six of its last seven contests.

And as the losses have begun to pile up, so have the injuries.

For the past several weeks, the Roosevelt (Lakers) have been without the services of 6-foot-6 junior forward, Jeremiah Jackson and 6-foot-5 senior forward, Mykyta Chesko due to foot and leg injuries. With the two of them sidelined, the Lakers have become very thin down low and have struggled at times in defending the paint.

Both players could be out for the remainder of the season, according to Roosevelt men’s basketball coach, Joe Griffin.

“It is what it is,” said Griffin. “They’ll be no excuses, no whining and no crying…it’s college basketball and we’ve got to respond (to the adversity).

Last Wednesday (Jan.22nd), it appeared as if Roosevelt would “respond” when they squared off against Indiana University-Southbend (Titans) at the Lillian and Larry Goodman Center; the start of a two-game home stand for the Lakers.

Roosevelt led for a good portion of the evening and at one point in the first half, the Lakers impressively held the Titans without a field goal for nearly 12 minutes, carrying a 32-25 edge inter the locker room at intermission.

Filling in admirably on the offensive end for the injured Jackson was junior forward Elliott Vaughn. Not usually regarded as a scorer, Vaughn led the Lakers in scoring for the game as he pumped in 18 points , scoring at will from  inside.

“I just try to come into the game with the mindset to help out in any way I can,” said Vaughn.

Elliott Vaughn scored 18 points against Indiana University-Southbend. Photo: Steve Woltmann/Roosevelt Athletics
Elliott Vaughn scored 18 points against Indiana University-Southbend.
Photo: Steve Woltmann/Roosevelt Athletics

But all of Vaughn and his teammates’ efforts were in vain as the visiting Titans erased a nine- point deficit with just over six minutes remaining, and shocked the Lakers by hitting a game-winning basket as time expired for a 68-67 win.

It was yet another game that went the wrong way for the home team.

“We’ve been in these situations before and tonight it didn’t fall in our favor,” said Vaughn. “Come tournament time, if we get into this situation again, we can say we’ve been here before…just step on our opponents’ throats and finish the game off (with a win).”

But for Roosevelt to make a deep run in the tournament, there will be little room for error ⎯ errors that doomed them against the Titans.

“We couldn’t rebound in the second half and that killed us,” Griffin said. “We let them right back in the game.”

That lack of rebounding continued on Saturday (Jan.25th) when Roosevelt hosted Olivet Nazarene University (Tigers) at The Goodman Center. The Tigers took an 18-point lead into the half and never looked back as they blasted the Lakers 91-64. Olivet Nazarene dominated Roosevelt in the rebounds department, holding a decisive 53-26 advantage.

So now it’s gut check time for a Roosevelt team that sits at 12-9 on the year and plays its next two games on the road against Purdue University-North Central and Trinity International.

“Everybody has to step,” said Griffin. “Every player,coach and manager– 1 through 20 on our team.”

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