AC
Nelson

Augustana (Ill.) Athletics

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- Kyle Nelson's put-back with 2.8 seconds left capped a huge comeback for Augustana (Ill.) Wednesday night at Carver Center, giving the undefeated and third-ranked Vikings a 69-67 win against Illinois Wesleyan. With the win, Augustana improves to 18-0 on the year and 7-0 in the CCIW. Illinois Wesleyan falls to 13-5 overall and 4-3 in league play.

A Doug Sexauer basket with 2:48 to go in the first half gave the Titans their biggest lead of the night at 38-22. However, Brian DeSimone answered with a three-pointer to start an 8-0 Viking run to end the half. Kameron Norton, who had a huge block and a spectacular rebound dunk in the opening 20 minutes, had a basket in the run and Troy Rorer added a field goal and free throw as Augustana narrowed the margin to 38-30 at intermission.

The Titans built that early lead by hitting six of their first seven three point attempts, including three by Jordan Zimmer. IWU finished the half with a .560 (14-25) field goal percentage including 6 of 11 (.545) from behind the arc.

DeSimone opened the second half with a three-pointer to cut the lead to five, but Zimmer picked up where he left off in the first half, following an Eliud Gonzalez layup with his fourth three of the night to make it 43-33 with 18:25 left. Over the next four and a half minutes, however, Augustana was able to whittle away at the margin, cutting it to four on a Drew Croegaert basket with 14:10 remaining.

The Titans responded by pushing the lead back to seven (52-45) on another Gonzalez layup at the 10-minute mark, but baskets by DeSimone and Nelson and a three-pointer from the right wing by Voiles tied the game for the first time since the 18:23 mark of the first half.

Three Viking turnovers led to a 7-1 IWU run as the Titans regained the lead 59-53, but Voiles followed a basket by Nelson with a pair of free throws and another three-pointer to give the Vikings their first lead since the opening possession of the game at 60-59. Another Nelson basket, three more Voiles free throws and a layup by DeSimone gave Augustana its biggest lead of the night at 67-59 with 2:14 remaining.

The Titans weren't done however, with Gonzalez scoring on a circus shot in the lane and Sexauer and Sean Johnson adding layups to cut it to 67-65 with 23 seconds left. After the Vikings missed a pair of free throws, Sexauer scored in the lane again with 9.9 seconds left to tie it at 67.

With Augustana out of timeouts, DeSimone rushed the ball up court and pulled up for a jumper just inside the three-point line. The ball bounced off the front of the rim and Nelson sliced in to grab his seventh offensive rebound of the game and the Vikings' 17th. He dropped the ball over the front of the rim to make the score 69-67 with 2.8 seconds left. After a Titan timeout, Johnson's desperation heave from halfcourt came up short and the Vikings had preserved their winning streak.

Veterans Voiles, DeSimone and Nelson all came up big in the second half. 13 of Voiles' game-high 17 points came after intermission as did a dozen of DeSimone's 15 markers and eight of Nelson's 14. Nelson was the game's leading rebounder with nine and he added five assists. Rorer added five points, six rebounds and six assists off the bench.

Wesleyan finished the game 26 of 52 from the field, becoming the first opponents in league play to hit 50 percent against Augustana. The Vikings shot .448 on 26 of 58, but dominated the boards with a 38-25 edge on the glass.

Augustana will attempt to win its 19th consecutive game on Saturday when it travels to Elmhurst for a 7:30 tip-off.