Augustana wins nip-and-tuck battle
Vikings hold Crusaders to 29.5 percent shooting to advance
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- Offensive balance and outstanding defense were again the keys as Augustana (Ill.) defeated Mary Hardin-Baylor 70-57 in Friday’s sectional semifinal at Carver Center.
Bryant Voiles led four Vikings in double figures with 14 points and the defense held the Crusaders to just 29.5 percent shooting from the field. Augustana improved to 27-3 on the year and advanced to Saturday’s sectional final against St. Thomas, a 66-64 winner against Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Friday’s first semifinal.
Brian DeSimone came up with a steal and took it in for a layup to open the game’s scoring and Voiles hit the first of his four 3-pointers on the night as the Vikings jumped out to a 5-0 lead. However, Mary Hardin-Baylor responded with a Sterling Phillips bucket and a 3 by Robert Moore to tie it and the game settled into a nip-and-tuck affair for the better part of the first half.
Other than Augustana’s 5-0 start, neither team could manage a lead of more than four points through the game’s first 15 minutes.
A jumper by Moore with 6:16 left in the half tied it at 22, the fifth deadlock of the opening stanza. At that point, the Vikings went on a 7-0 run, capped by another Voiles trey, to stretch the lead to 29-22 and DeSimone equaled that biggest lead of the half, hitting a 3-pointer from the left wing to put Augustana up 37-30 at the break.
Moore, with 11 first half points including a 3-for-3 performance from beyond the arc, kept the Crusaders in the game.
Baskets by Kameron Norton and Kyle Nelson on the first two offensive possessions of the second half gave the Vikings their first double digit lead at 41-30. The Crusaders’ Dean Pele scored with 16:26 left to narrow the margin to 43-34, but Voiles answered with another 3-pointer and Mary Hardin-Baylor wouldn’t get the lead under 10 again.
A pair of Drew Croegaert free throws at the 10:40 mark gave Augustana its biggest lead of the game at 58-38, but the visitors had one more run left, outscoring the Vikings 14-4 over the next six minutes to draw within 62-52. Four consecutive points by Chris Anderson pushed the lead back to 14 and the Vikings cruised to the 70-57 win.
Voiles led the Vikings with 14 points and nine rebounds. He was 5 of 7 from the field, including a perfect 4 for 4 from beyond the arc. DeSimone finished with 10 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals and no turnovers in 29 minutes. Nelson and Anderson, with a dozen points each, also reached double figures.
Troy Rorer came off the bench to grab seven rebounds and dish out three assists and Norton added six points and six rebounds. Augustana overcame a 40.4-percent shooting night from the field by hitting 6 of 15 (40.0) from 3-point range and 22 of 29 (75.9) from the free throw line, while outrebounding the Crusaders 47 to 35 and holding them to a 29.5 (18-of-16) field goal percentage.
On Saturday, the 7th-ranked Vikings will face the 8th-ranked St. Thomas Tommies with a trip to the Final Four on the line. St. Thomas, like Augustana with a 27-3 record, defeated 3rd-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point 66-64 Friday to advance to the sectional final. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.