Posted Online: Jan. 02, 2013, 10:50 pm

Augustana puts it all together in romp over North Park

Comment on this story

By Tom Johnston, tjohnston@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Augustana's Brandon Kunz and North Park's Aaron Weaver scramble for the ball near the Augustana basket at the Carver Center in Rock Island on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
North Park's Rodney Clarke hits the ball from the hands of Augustana's Griffin Pils at the Carver Center in Rock Island on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.
It was difficult to determine which part of the game the Augustana men's basketball team excelled at more on Wednesday night in their CCIW-opening 89-54 romp past North Park at the Carver Center.

On the defensive end, Augie held the Chicagoland Vikings to 36.4-percent shooting (16-of-44), out-rebounded their guests 47-24 and held NPU to four field goals for nearly 23 minutes in the middle of the game as the hosts dominated.

"They're a good defensive team; they could have held us to zero,'' said first-year North Park coach Tom Slyder, who inherited much of his team after his late summer hire. "Augie's a good team and I don't want to sound bad, but I'm not sure it's anything they did; I think we're just that poor of a team.''

Offensively, the 22nd-ranked Vikings (11-1, 1-0 CCIW) were clicking on offense as they shot 50 percent from the floor and logged 20 assists on 35 baskets. They also nailed 10-of-23 3-pointers, which stretched the already porous NPU (5-7, 0-1 CCIW) defense. Thirteen of the 14 Augie players to see the court cracked the scoring column and balance was the key. Nic Hoepfner led the way with 16 points in the paint and Brandon Thompson and Dan Jurgutis each added 11 with the help of three 3s each. Five other players – Brandon Kunz, Mark Roth, Brandon Motzel, Tayvian Johnson and Griffin Pils – scored at least seven.

"Offensively, that was a clinic,'' said Augie coach Grey Giovanine. "We just shot it great and we got great shots. We really shared the ball. We had 20 assists and that means most of those baskets came off good passes.''

Maybe one of the brightest spots for Augie was Hoepfner.

Getting more minutes with junior standout center Kevin Schlitter sidelined by a recent ACL tear, the former United Township Panther stepped in with his 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in just 13 minutes.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore took advantage of NPU's smaller lineup to dominate in the paint. His personal run of eight straight points closed Augie's 27-6 second half-opening run that moved the margin from 48-30 at halftime to 75-36 with 11:20 left.

"I've got to give all the credit to my teammates; when they are making 3s like that, it is completely opening up the lane and I was basically shooting layups,'' said Hoepfner.

"He clearly has risen up and has taken advantage of the opportunity,'' Giovanine said of Hoepfner.

"With Kevin out, Coach has been talking about how guys need to be ready,'' said Hoepfner. "I see the opportunity out there and I just want to go as hard as I can and do everything I need to do to be successful.''

Hoepfner admitted that his new role in college – first at Parkland College for a year and now at Augie – has taken some adjusting.

"My whole college career has been different,'' said Hoepfner. "In high school, I had a lot more shots and had plays especially for me. It's kind of a transition to college basketball, working a lot harder inside going up against the bigger guys.''

Hoepfner knows things will be getting tougher for him – and the entire team – as the Vikings embark on a three-game road swing that takes them to Carthage, No. 17-ranked Illinois Wesleyan and No. 3 North Central before coming back home to face No. 14 Wheaton.

"Everybody is happy that we won this game, but it's time to move on,'' said Hoepfner. "I haven't played them, but I've heard from some of the seniors that it's a completely different game inside against them. Things aren't going to come as easy as they did, so you have to stay focused and keep working.''

And hope for similar success the entire team enjoyed in its league opener.




BASKETBALL
QC college men
Augustana 89, North Park 54
NORTH PARK (5-7, 0-1 CCIW)
Holmes 1-4 0-0 2 4 3, Cassita 3-7 0-0 1 3 7, Weaver 1-6 4-6 0 2 7, Hyrn 2-3 0-1 1 1 5, Peterson 0-0 1-2 4 0 1, Clarke 4-11 3-4 3 4 12, Benjamin 2-6 2-2 0 2 7, Morgan 2-4 3-3 2 2 7, Bogaard 0-1 0-0 0 2 0, Kucera 0-1 1-2 0 0 1, McCarthy 1-1 2-3 1 1 4, McGee 0-0 0-0 0 1 0, Welch 0-0 0-2 1 0 0. Team rebounds 2. Totals 16-44 16-25 15 24 54.
AUGUSTANA (11-1, 1-0 CCIW)
Johnson 3-5 1-1 0 6 7, Ryan 2-7 1-2 3 5 5, Kunz 4-8 0-0 1 6 8, Thompson 4-7 0-0 3 0 11, Jurgutis 4-6 0-0 0 4 11, Pils 3-6 0-0 1 4 7, Dexter 1-2 0-0 1 2 2, Roth 3-7 0-0 0 0 8, Hoepfner 7-8 2-2 1 6 16, Hill 1-2 0-0 3 1 3, Dziagwa 0-4 2-2 3 7 2, Straughter 0-0 1-2 0 0 1, Motzel 3-4 2-2 4 2 8, Norcia 0-4 0-0 0 1 0.
Team rebounds 3. Totals 35-70 9-11 20 47 89.
Halftime: Augustana 48-30. 3s: NPU 6-14 (Hyrn 1-1, Cassita 1-2, Holmes 1-2, Benjamin 1-2, Weaver 1-3, Clarke 1-3, Bogaard 0-1); Augie 10-23 (Jurgutis 3-3, Thompson 3-4, Roth 2-6, Hill 1-1, Pils 1-4, Dexter 0-1, Norcia 0-4). Assists: NPU 4 (Weaver 2); Augie 20 (Ryan 5, Dexter 3). Turnovers: NPU 15, Augie 11. Blocks: BPU 2 (Weaver, holmes); Augie 1 (Dziagwa). Steals: NPU 8 (Holmes 2); Augie 8 (Johnson 2, Ryan 2).