Another big lead lost for Augustana


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Posted Online: Feb. 09, 2013, 10:48 pm
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By Tom Johnston, tjohnston@qconline.com
For 20 minutes Saturday night, the Augustana College men's basketball team looked like world-beaters. The aggressive, confident Vikings raced to a 16-point lead over former nationally top-ranked North Central.

In the final 20 minutes, though, the Vikings struggled mightily against the No. 11-ranked Cardinals and it cost them in a 76-62 CCIW setback on senior night at the Carver Center.

"You saw tonight that the young Vikings are not ready to beat a Top 20 team,'' rationalized Augie coach Grey Giovanine. "We simply are not tough enough and mature enough. That team was No. 1 in the nation a couple of weeks ago because they are physical, big, strong and tough. They manhandled us when it was on the line.''

For Giovanine, it may have felt as if he was caught in his own "Groundhog Day'' rendition. Just a few weeks again on the same court, against another Top 20 team, the Vikings raced out to a 16-point lead over Illinois Wesleyan, only to have the upset fade into a disappointing loss.

In this one, Augie (16-7, 6-6 CCIW) led NCC 37-21 late in what was a stellar first-half as the hosts were just throttling the explosive Cardinals with a defensive masterpiece. The tables turned in the final 20 minutes. NCC outscored the Vikings 52-25 by shooting 60-percent from the field, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. NCC was 24-of-34 from the free-throw line, outscoring Augie by 11 from the stripe.

The tenor changed quickly in the second half as the Cardinals' Vince Kmiec nailed 3-pointers on NCC's first three second-half possessions to put the Vikings back on their heels. As in the loss to IWU, Augie struggled on the offensive end – this time going over nine minutes without a field goal against NCC's trapping defense and seeing a 50-44 lead turn into a 64-57 deficit.

Freshman Ben Ryan hit a runner in the paint to end the field-goal drought with 3:24 left. Sophomore Mark Roth then drilled a 3-pointer as the Vikings scrambled to beat the shot clock. With 2:25 left, the Vikings trailed just 64-62 and had some hope.

But, as things went the entire second half, NCC answered. Big man Landon Gamble operated in the paint for a three-point play as the Cardinals (20-3, 8-3 CCIW) scored the final 12 points of the game.

"They scored on 10 of their first 12 possessions in the second half,'' said Giovanine. "We talked about it at halftime that we needed to make stops early in the second half. They have a designated shooter, a designated shooter that we put stars by (on the scouting report) and he makes 3 out of 3. ... They have to embrace the scouting report better. You can't let a shooter get uncontested 3s.''

A win for Augie would have been huge. Battling Carthage for the fourth and final spot in the upcoming CCIW Tournament, Augie missed a huge opportunity to get the upper hand over the Red Men, who lost at home 78-59 to Illinois Wesleyan. Augie and Carthage remain tied at 6-6 in the CCIW. Augie finishes at Elmhurst (6-17, 2-10) on Saturday, and hosts Millikin (8-15, 4-8) in the finale on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Dan Jurgutis led Augie with 18 points, 14 of those in the first half. Roth added 13. Former United Township prep Nic Hoepfner got extended minutes with senior Brandon Kunz in foul trouble and put up seven points, grabbed seven rebound and dished out three assists.

NCC had five players in double-figure scoring led by 21 from Aaron Tiknis. A huge factor was reserve guard Jack Merrithey adding 15 points, a dozen of those in the second half. Gamble added 13.

"In the first half, Augustana was more aggressive and took us out of everything we wanted to do,'' said NCC coach Todd Raridon. "Second half, we were more aggressive on the defensive end.''

Augie women fall: There were some incredible numbers from the women's CCIW clash that opened the night – North Central's 87-67 victory. The Cardinals (12-11, 5-7 CCIW) employ "The System'' in which they sub five players in at a time every 30 seconds and seemingly shoot the ball with every tick of the clock. NCC launched 96 field goal attempts (making 30) and threw up 65 3-pointers (making 17). Augie had two eye-popping numbers, too, with 64 rebounds and 36 turnovers.

Molly Etheridge led Augie (7-16, 2-10 CCIW) with 14 points and 10 rebounds and senior Gianna Pecora added 13. Reserves Kelsey Cooling and Maryssa Cladis led NCC with 14 points each and starter Sophie Newson added a dozen.




BASKETBALL
QC college men
North Central 76, Augustana 62
NORTH CENTRAL (20-3, 9-3 CCIW)
Kmiec 4-8 0- 1 4 11, Tiknis 7-10 4-5 4 5 21, Gamble 4-10 5-5 4 5 13, Rourke 0-0 0-0 1 0 0, Raridon 3-6 4-6 3 1 10, Rosenberg 0-1 1-4 3 0 1, Merrithey 3-6 7-8 2 3 15, Burchett 1-2 3-6 0 5 5, Heide 0-0 0-0 0 1 0, Williams 0-0 0-0 0 0 0. Team rebounds 1. Totals 22-43 24-34 18 25 76. 
AUGUSTANA (16-7, 6-6 CCIW)
Ryan 3-6 2-4 3 1 8, Dexter 2-4 2-2 5 3 6, Kunz 1-3 2-2 5 5 4, Thompson 1-2 0-0 3 2 2, Jurgutis 6-13 4-5 3 2 18, Straughter 1-1 0-0 2 3 2, Johnson 1-3 0-0 1 1 2, Roth 5-10 0-0 0 0 13, Pils 0-0 0-0 0 0 0, Hoepfner 2-3 3-4 3 7 7. Team rebounds 3. Totals 22-45 13-17 25 27 62. 
Halftime: Augie 36-27. 3s: NCC 8-14 (Kmiec 3-5, Tiknis 3-6, Merrithey 2-2, Raridon 0-1); Augie 5-11 (Roth 3-7, Jurgutis 2-4). Assists: NCC 11 (Raridon 3, Gamble 3); Augie 11 (Hoepfner 3). Turnovers:  NCC 14, Augie 18. Blocks: Augie 1 (Kunz). Steals: NCC 9 (Rourke 2, Kmiec 2); Augie 5 (Jurgutis 2).














 



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