Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2012, 10:40 pm

Healthy Roth helps Vikings romp past Knox

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By Tom Johnston, tjohnston@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Augustana's Ben Ryan scrambles toward a lose ball as Knox College's Mitch Murphy, front, also starts to dive for possession at the Carver Center in Rock Island on Tuesday, December 11, 2012.
Missing three major front-line contributors wasn't a problem for the Augustana College men's basketball team Tuesday night at the Carver Center.

Not with Mark Roth showing that he has again found his shooting stroke.

The sophomore shooting guard was 5-of-8 from 3-point land in the first half, staking the hosting Vikings to a huge lead they never relinquished en route to a commanding 84-49 nonconference victory over out-manned Knox. It allowed the 7-1 Vikings to rebound from their first loss of the season, a 67-59 setback at No. 7 UW-Stevens Point last Saturday.

"Roth was the difference in the first half,'' said first-year Knox coach Kevin Walden, a Knox graduate and former St. Ambrose University assistant. "We went into our 2-3 zone and we just couldn't find him. It's not like we didn't know he could shoot. We just gave him too many open looks.''

And finally, Roth is starting to knock down those open looks in moving the Vikings to a 42-21 halftime lead with all 15 of his points. It was a slow start to the season for the Washington High School prep. He spent much of the preseason practicing with his right hand in a cumbersome cast, protecting a surgically repaired hand.

"I broke the end of my third metacarpal my senior year of high school and taped it up and played with it,'' said Roth, who finished with a game-high 15 points on Tuesday. "This fall, I caught a ball wrong and it popped and needed to have two screws put in to fix it.''

The screws are still in the hand, but with the swelling gone and his shooting hand returning to a normal feel, Roth has found his stroke.

"His hand was an issue, but further post-surgery, he hasn't been grimacing or grabbing it in practice,'' said Augie coach Grey Giovanine. "I think the swelling is gone and physically he is fine. Now it's working on confidence.''

That is apparently coming back quickly, too. In the last two games, he has hit 9-of-17 3-pointers. Prior to that, he started the season making just 7-of-28 and missed horribly on some.

"It felt good,'' said Roth of his shots, adding that it was as much getting his legs back in shape for a good base on his jumpers. "Getting my wind back is helpful, too.''

On Tuesday, Roth & Co. took the wind out of the Prairie Fire sails early and got some solid effort in the victory. On the offensive end, freshman Ben Ryan added 14 points and Brandon Kunz 13. Starting point guard Dan Jurgutis added nine as did freshman Jake Gylten, who was picking up minutes left by injuries to big men Kevin Schlitter, George Dexter and Nic Hoepfner. Gylten also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in helping Augie to a 34-27 rebounding edge.

Giovanine, though, was especially happy with the defensive effort.

"We played great defense at Point and held them to 39 percent,'' said Giovanine, whose Vikings held the inexperienced Knox squad to 18-of-48 shooting. "They had nobody in double-figure scoring, we held them to 37.5 percent shooting; there were a lot of good things.''

At both ends of the court for the young Vikings who continue to show promising signs early in the campaign.





BASKETBALL
QC college men
Augustana 84, Knox 49
KNOX (1-6)
Shaw 3-6 2-4 4 5 8, Jones 4-5 1-1 3 4 9, Olson 1-5 2-4 0 2 5, Miller 2-5 0-0 0 4 5, Murphy 2-5 1-5 4 0 7, Worden 1-2 0-0 1 1 2, Harned 0-4 0-0 1 0 0, Stricklin 1-5 0-0 2 1 3, McNichols 1-2 0-0 0 3 3, Chapman 1-1 0-0 1 1 2, Crawford 1-4 0-0 0 0 3, Eighner 0-3 0-0 1 1 0, Gordon 1-1 0-0 1 3 2. Team rebounds 2. Totals 18-48 6-14 18 27 49.
AUGUSTANA (7-1)
Johnson 3-4 1-2 1 2 7, Ryan 7-10 0-0 2 3 14, Kunz 4-7 5-6 2 4 13, Thompson 4-5 0-0 4 3 9, Jurgutis 3-8 0-0 1 3 6, Pils 0-2 3-4 1 2 3, Roth 5-8, 0-1, 0 0 15, Dziagwa 1-4 0-0 2 6 2, Gylten 4-5 0-0 0 7 9, Straughter 0-2 0-0 0 2 0, Motzel 1-1 2-2 0 0 4, Norcia 0-1 2-2 1 0 2. Team rebounds 2. Totals 32-57 13-17 14 34 84.
Halftime: Augustana 42-21. 3s: Knox 7-20 (Murphy 2-3, McNichols 1-1, Miller 1-2, Crawford 1-3, Olson 1-5, Sticklin 1-5, Harned 0-1); Augie 7-14 (Roth 5-8, Thompson 1-1, Gylten 1-1, Jurgutis 0-1, Norcia 0-1, Pils 0-2).  Assists: Knox 9 (Jones 3, Miller 2); Augie 16 (Thompson 3, Kunz 3, Jurgutis 2, Norcia 2). Turnovers: Knox 21, Augie 11. Blocks: Knox 1 (Jones); Augie 1 (Dziagwa). Steals: Knox 2 (Olson, Murphy); Augie 10 (Roth 2, Gylten 2).