Vikings falter down stretch, flush upset bid of No. 12 IWU

Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2013, 11:38 pm
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By Tom Johnston,
The Augustana College men's basketball team may petition the NCAA to shorten games to 32 minutes from the normal 40.

If Wednesday's game against nationally 12th-ranked and CCIW-leading Illinois Wesleyan had been cut short by eight minutes – or even five – the 26th-ranked Vikings would have had their first victory over a Top 20 team this season.

Instead, the youthful Vikings stalled out down the stretch, falling to a furious Titans rally by a 71-65 score.

Playing a nationally ranked team to that close of a game might have been cause for a moral victory for some teams. But this one at Carver Center was a shot or two to the solar plexus for the Vikings, who, on freshman Jawan Straughter's second 3-pointer in a four-minute span, gave Augie a 59-43 lead with 9:30 left in the game.

Sophomore Nic Hoepfner then added a field goal at the 8:17 mark for a 61-47 Augie lead.

From there, however, the Vikings (15-5, 5-4 CCIW) went 7:13 without a field goal and had just two Brandon Kunz free throws until freshman Ben Ryan hit a free-throw line jumper with 1:04 left. Augie, by then, had lost the lead they held since 3-2 just three minutes into the game.

"We worked our tails off for 32 minutes and then just shut down,'' said a disappointed Grey Giovanine, Augie's coach. "We looked like a young and timid team in the last eight minutes. Nobody wanted to make a play; our defense got tentative. All of the things that got us into position to win, we didn't continue.''

While that was happening, the Titans (17-3, 9-0 CCIW) started picking up momentum – slowly before things really snowballed as they finished the game on a 28-6 spree after Straughter's triple.

"We've had multiple games this season where we have walked away and scratched your head wondering how we scored more points than the other team,'' said IWU coach Ron Rose.

Wednesday was one of those. Part of the answer was what Augie was doing. A major part of that equation also was what Wesleyan did.

Eric Dortch, who scored all nine of IWU's bench points, with five in a row to help cut Augie's lead to 61-55 with 7:06 left.

Sophomore guard Dylan Overstreet (team-high 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting) was fearless in taking the ball to the basket and making things happen. He scored six straight points to pull IWU to within 63-61 with 3:54 left.

Junior Andrew Ziemnik (18 points) hit two key 3-pointers in that final flurry that gave the Titans the season sweep after a 63-60 home victory earlier this month.

Former Galesburg prep Victor Davis added 10 points for IWU.

"They made the plays,'' groused Giovanine, "and we didn't. They had a veteran team that knew how to keep coming.''

In a game hampered by 50 fouls – 25 each way – there was little flow, which kept the Vikings from upping the tempo, which they needed to do once they got that big lead.

Augie showed early in the second half that it wanted to pound the ball inside to Kunz. The senior finished with a team-high 16 points. Fellow starters Dan Jurgutis and Ryan added nine each, but were a combined 6-of-23 shooting to get those. Former United Township prep Tayvian Johnson came off the bench to add 10 points.

However, the negatives down the stretch far outweighed the positives.

"You can go through a whole litany of young, or poor, decisions,'' said Giovanine, whose club has to bounce back on Saturday at home against Carthage, another club still battling for a top-four finish and a CCIW Tournament berth. "We were indecisive and we're hesitant to shoot it or pull the trigger on a pass or drive to the basket. We just got tentative.''

QC college men
Illinois Wesleyan 71, Augustana 65
Ziemnik 6-12 4-8 2 8 18, Davis 4-12 2-2 4 6 10, Reed 2-3 2-5 4 7 6, Overstreet 8-9 4-7 2 4 20, Sodemann 2-4 3-3 4 1 8, Mayberger0-1 0-0 1 0 0, Anderson 0-2 0-0 2 1 0, Dolan 0-0 0-0 1 0 0,
Dortch 4-5 1-2 3 2 9, Musselman 0-1 0- 2 0 0. Team rebounds 5. Totals 26-49 16-27 25 34 71.

AUGUSTANA (15-5, 5-4 CCIW)
Ryan 3-9 3-6 4 8 9, Dexter 1-1 1-2 2 3 3, Kunz 5-9 6-10 4 6 16, Thompson 1-4 3-4 4 3 5, Jurgutis 3-14 2-2 1 5 9, Johnson 3-5 4-5 3 3 10, Straughter 2-5 0-1 3 0 6, Hoepfner 2-3 0-0 2 4 4, Roth 1-6 0-0 2 3 2, Pils 0-0 0-0 0 0 0. Team rebounds 1. Totals 21-56 19-30 25 36 65. 

Halftime: Augie 35-30. 3s: IWU 3-10 (Ziemnik 2-5, Sodmann 1-2, Mayberger 0-1, Davis 0-2); Augie 4-14 (Straughter 2-2, Jurgutis 1-4, Roth 1-4, Thompson 0-2, Ryan 0-2). Assists: IWU 11 (Overstreet 4, Reed 4); Augie 7 (Thompson 3, Ryan 2). Turnovers: IWU 16, Augie 12. Blocks: IWU 2 (Overstreet, Ziemnik); Augie 4 (Thompson, Ryan, Dexter, Johnson). Steals: IWU 5 (five with one each); Augie 8 (Thompson 2, Kunz 2).


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