NAPERVILLE, Ill. — Augustana’s attempt to claim the outright championship in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin will have to wait until Tuesday. The No. 3 Vikings dropped a 50-46 decision to North Central in venerable Merner Fieldhouse on Saturday.
Augustana is now 22-2 overall and 11-2 in the CCIW while North Central is 15-10 and 11-3 in league play. The Vikings will head to Bloomington, Illinois on Tuesday, Feb. 22 needing a win against the Titans to clinch the outright championship and secure a host spot in the CCIW tournament. A loss at Wesleyan will create a co-championship between Augustana and North Central and the Cardinals win the tie-breaker to host the conference tournament.
A low-scoring first half saw the Vikings take a 21-16 advantage into the locker room but the Cardinals went on a 7-2 run to tied the game at 23-23 in the early going after intermission. North Central strung together a 22-9 run from the 16:15 mark until just 5:02 remained. That is when the Cardinals’ Derek Raridon hit a 3-pointer to give the home team a 45-34 advantage.
Augustana closed the game on a 12-5 spurt and actually cut the margin to a single point at 45-44 at 2:23 after a free throw by Bryant Voiles. Down the stretch two crucial turnovers in the final minute proved costly.
Kevin Gillespie hit two free throws with just seven seconds left to provide the final margin and ice the game for North Central.
Voiles led the Vikings with 11 points while Kyle Nelson had 10. No other Augustana player was in double figures. North Central had just one player in double digits, Landon Gamble with 16.
North Central outrebounded the Vikings 36-33 with Nelson leading the way for Augustana with seven.
Brian DeSimone had four assists and seven points while grabbing four rebounds.
Augustana shot just 32.7 percent (16 of 49) from the field and was just 26.7 (4 of 15) from behind the arc. North Central hit on just 30.4 (7 of 23) from the field in the first half but picked it up in the second half to the tune of 46.2 (12 of 26).