Posted Online: Feb. 02, 2013, 10:43 pm

Augie closes out win over Carthage

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By Tom Johnston,

What a difference a couple of days makes for the Augustana College men's basketball team.

On Saturday night, the Vikings showed they can close out a game, staving off the Carthage Red Men 83-74 in a CCIW clash at the Carver Center. The decision was in doubt midway through the second half when Carthage cut what had been a double-digit Augie lead to one with 13:42 left in the game.

Just two days removed from a total collapse in the final eight minutes that cost them a 16-point lead in a failed upset bid over league-leading Illinois Wesleyan, the Vikings (16-5, 6-4 CCIW) showed the mettle to nab a key victory. The win kept them in a third-place tie in the CCIW standings with Wheaton, where they play Wednesday.

"I'd say it was big for us tonight since we had a letdown in that same type of situation the other night against Wesleyan," said Augie senior George Dexter, the Bettendorf prep who scored eight points on 4-for-4 shooting and had four rebounds. "For us to go out there tonight, make our free throws and take care of it was pretty big for this squad."

For a bit, though, it was looking a bit Macabre for the Vikings as their once comfortable lead was cut to 46-45 as sophomore point guard Dan Jurgutis was on the bench after re-injuring his sprained left ankle.

Freshman Ben Ryan answered with a nice right-handed runner in the lane to give Augie a little breathing room, but then Brandon Kunz started a huge shift in momentum toward the season sweep of the Red Men with a block of Mitch Thompson's point-blank attempt.

"We were down (three) and the next time I look up, we're down (10)," said Carthage coach Bosko Djurickovic after his club dropped to 10-11, 5-5 in the CCIW. "Those are the kinds of runs in close games between two teams that are pretty equal, frankly, that make the difference in the game and that's what happened tonight."

In that Augie run, Kunz scored off a Mark Roth feed and two Carthage turnovers turned into 3-pointers by Brandon Thompson and Roth (12 points, two rebounds, two assists). In a matter of 91 seconds, Augie's lead jumped to 58-48 and the Vikings never lost that comfortable cushion the rest of the way. In fact, they stretched it to 16 with 6:00 left on Kunz's three-point play.

"You lose a heart-breaker like we did that last game and it can really haunt you," said Augie coach Grey Giovanine. "When we got down 5-0, I thought 'uh-oh.' But the guys responded great and I'm really proud of them. This is a great bounce-back win against a team that is really capable.''

The Vikings put up some gaudy offensive numbers en route to the victory. They shot 60-percent (30-of-50) from the field for the game, made 19 of 22 free throws (86.4 percent) and out-rebounded the Red Men 33-20. One negative was that Augie turned over the ball 20 times in a game that got a little chippy in the second half.

It was a great team victory as a number of guys contributed. Ryan continued to shine in his freshman season, scoring 15 points, grabbing four rebounds and picking off five steals to balance out his team-high seven turnovers. Kunz finished with 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Roth's 12 points led the bench brigade, that also included solid effort from former United Township prep Tayvian Johnson and fellow freshman Griffin Pils. Johnson scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds and Pils added 10 points, dished out four assists and grabbed a pair of boards.

Down the stretch, Giovanine had four freshmen -- Ryan, Johnson, Pils and Jawan Straughter -- on the floor to protect the lead.

"We had four freshmen out there going against that kind of pressure, but they hung in there and did a good job," said Giovanine. "I thought Pils came off the bench and gave us a great spark."

QC college men
Augustana 83, Carthage 74
CARTHAGE (10-11, 5-5 CCIW)
Thompson 9-15 0-1 3 7 20, Van Wyk 1-3 1-2 4 2 3, Pierce 2-8 4-6 2 4 8, Herth 4-10 6-7 4 1 16, Logan 2-5 5-5 3 2 11, Lee 1-2 2-3 2 2 4, Sykes Jr. 1-3 3-4 1 0 6, Matthews 1-1 3-3 1 0 6, Sexton 0-0 0-0 0 0 0, Valentine 0-1 0-0 1 0 0. Team rebounds 2. Totals 21-48 24-31 21 20 74.

AUGUSTANA (16-5, 6-4 CCIW)
Ryan 6-9 3-4 4 4 15, Dexter 4-4 0-0 2 4 8, Kunz 5-10 4-5 2 8 14, Straughter 0-2 1-2 1 5 1, Jurgutis 2-3 0-0 1 3 4, Thompson 2-3 0-0 4 1 5, Johnson 3-6 4-4 3 4 10, Pils 2-4 6-6 2 2 10, Roth 4-6 1-1 0 2 12, Hoepfner 2-3 0-0 0 0 4. Totals 30-50 19-22 19 33 83.

Halftime: Augie 36-27. 3s: Carthage 8-18 (Logan 2-3, Thompson 2-4, Herth 2-5, Matthews 1-1, Sykes Jr. 1-2, Pierce 0-1, Lee 0-1, Valentine 0-1); Augie 4-7 (Roth 3-3, Thompson 1-1, Pils 0-1, Straughter 0-2). Assists: Carthage 7 (Logan 3, Pierce 3); Augie 10 (Pils 4). Turnovers: Carthage 18, Augie 20. Blocks: Carthage 2 (Thompson, Lee); Augie 2 (Ryan, Kunz). Steals: Carthage 11 (Herth 5); Augie 10 (Ryan 5, Pils 2, Johnson 2). Technicals: Carthage 1 (Matthews); Augie 1 (Thompson).