UMD
Hottenstine 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The starting five for Minnesota-Duluth (9-4, 6-3 NSIC) combined for 90 points and Ryan Rasmussen tallied a key steal in the waning seconds of the game to help UMD outshine No. 21 ranked Augustana (S.D.) (9-5, 6-4 NSIC) 101-99 in front of more than 2,700 Vikings fans.

“I’ve been involved in college basketball for 37 years, and that was one of the better games I’ve been a part of,” UMD head coach Gary Holquist said. “There’s no question that people got their money’s worth tonight with two teams giving it everything they had. We made a couple plays when it counted and were fortunate enough to come out with a win.”

Exercising a fierce brand of interior basketball, the Bulldogs were able to take advantage of an exhausted Vikings team that had been taken to two overtime periods by Bemidji State the previous night. UMD forced the issue inside and found it was able to score seemingly at will against the flimsy Vikings defense in the paint, scoring 32 of their 43 first half points inside.

After trading buckets early on with the Vikings, the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run to grab an 18-10 lead featuring points from four different players. While the Vikings weren’t able to match the interior production by UMD early, they made up for it with a timely barrage of three-pointers.

With the score knotted at 28, Reece Zoelle continued his torrid shooting start, canning the Bulldogs’ first trey of the game with an Augustana defender draped all over him. Zoelle netted nine points on four-of-five shooting in the first half.

From there, the Vikings bounced right back, going on a 6-0 run that would give them the lead until the clock read all zeroes.

Calling on every iota of their second-half experience from the previous night, the Bulldogs knew they were going to contend with a Vikings squad that was hungry to increase its lead from the first inbounds pass to begin the second stanza.

Rasmussen converted on a pair of mid-range jumpers and Zoelle netted a fast break layup to keep pace with the Vikings who were scoring at a furious pace. As the lead for Augustana bulged to eight points, it was do-or-die time for the Bulldogs if they wanted to keep the Augustana crowd from becoming a factor.

A 7-0 UMD run highlighted by Peter Crawford’s three-point play helped the Bulldogs pull to within one. After a pair of Viking free throws rattled home, Jake Hottenstine pulled up from deep to knot the game then continued his dicing of the Augustana defense with a driving layup to wrestle the lead back to the Bulldogs.

After trading baskets, it was Rasmussen’s turn to cool off the Vikings. The senior guard made it rain from downtown on consecutive possessions before Crawford arrived at the three-party, launching and making a trey from the corner to keep UMD on top.

The focus then turned inside where reigning NSIC Freshman of the Year Brett Ervin knocked in the next five points for UMD before Hottenstine got to the line and made good on his two free throw attempts to give the Bulldogs a seven-point edge.

TOP 25 SCORES
No. 10 Winona State 87, St. Cloud State 77
No. 19 Minn. State-Moorhead 81, Northern State 74
Minn.-Duluth 101, No. 21 Augustana (S.D.) 99

Down the stretch, it was more Hottenstine, as he rose up for a fast-break rim-rocker to quiet the Augustana congregation. A flurry of 3-pointers around the three-minute mark pushed the score even higher and UMD hit triple digits when Hottenstine put in another pair of attempts at the charity stripe.

Making one final push, Cameron McCaffery nailed a wide open trey from the left wing to pull the Vikings within a pair with one minutes remaining.

With the game hinging on a single possession once again, Rasmussen made a veteran play, slapping the ball away from Cody Schilling before being fouled quickly with six seconds showing. The senior swished one of his two free throws to make it a three-point game.

Not wanting to take any chances, Rasmussen quickly fouled Drae Murray, who clanked his second attempt from the line. Ervin ran down the rebound, and watched the final two seconds tick harmlessly off the clock.

“They can’t fool us coaches anymore,” Holquist said. “We discovered they can play for 40 minutes and now they need to bring it every single game.”

UMD finished 41-66 (62.1 percent) from the field and Hottenstine led all players with 31 points. Ervin and Rasmussen each scored 19 and Zoelle netted a career-high 17 points. McCaffrey led the Vikings with 27 points.