DII Notebook: Exciting start to basketball season for No. 1 Augustana; XC champions crowned
The clock ticked down to 3 seconds when 6-foot-9 center Daniel Jansen of the No. 1 ranked Augustana men’s basketball team received the ball 25-feet from the goal and his team trailing by one against No. 14 Northwest Missouri State.
The Vikings had already dropped their season-opener by two points to Washburn six days earlier.
Jansen calmly launched his shot that swished through the nets, lifting Augustana to a 79-77 victory Thursday evening at Sioux Falls Arena.
“There are not many words, especially in a game like that when we had a lead and let it go,” Jansen said. “A win is a win. We are very happy with it, but we have to learn and keep that lead.”
It was understandable why Jansen wasn’t more jubilant following a thrilling game-winning shot in front of his home crowd. The Vikings held a 15-point lead in the second half and let it slip away.
The early-season trend of blowing big leads is a bit unsettling for the Vikings, who are coming off a successful season in which they finished 31-3 before losing to Northwest in the regional semifinals.
“It is a funny team,” Augustana coach Tom Billeter said. “We had a 14-point lead in the second half against Washburn and we got beat by two. We were up 15 in the second half against Iowa and we won by two.”
The fact that the Vikings beat Iowa 76-74 in an exhibition game on Nov. 6, speaks of the talent on the team, which includes 6-6 senior forward Casey Schilling, 6-5 senior guard Alex Richter and 6-0 sophomore guard Jordan Spencer.
“The Iowa game was great,” Jansen said. “We are happy about that. Washburn game was cruddy. We have to get better. If we don’t get better every day in practice, somebody else is. If people think we are this good, we have to go out and prove it.”
Augustana returns to action Monday at Wayne State (Neb.). The Vikings had a few days to look at film and learn why they are surrendering big leads.
“We have to figure some things out and continue to keep our intensity and continue to play to win games and not lose them,” Billeter said. “For the team, what I hope is it does make us better. On film, we have to understand why we are losing our intensity in the second half. The bottom line, we have to play better in the second half.”
Colorado School of Mines men’s cross country make history
On a blustery, cold Saturday in Missouri, the men’s cross country team at Colorado School of Mines produced a moment that will live forever in the school’s athletic history.
Colorado Mines finished 27 points ahead of defending national champions Adams State and claimed the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championships at Tom Rutledge Course on the campus of Missouri Southern.
It was the school’s first national title in any sports in Division II.
“It doesn’t quit feel like we won a national championship,” said Colorado Mines only senior Marty Andrie. “It seems kind of strange, but I like it.”
The Orediggers finished with 100 points. Adams State came in with 127 points and Alaska Anchorage was third with 138 points.
It was a little bit of a surprise that Colorado Mines took first. The Orediggers came into the meet ranked fourth.
“The last couple of meets, conference and regional, we struggled with depth,” Andrie said.
But it was the Orediggers’ depth that won them the title. Alaska Anchorage had two runners finish in the top five and Adams State had one.
Colorado Mines proved that it isn’t necessary to have a runner in the top 15 to win the team title. The Orediggers were plenty strong from18 through 33.
Andrie helped the Orediggers pull off the mild surprise by taking 18th with a time of 30:12.
“We knew if we could have five guys going for those All-American spots, we had a chance at winning,” Andrie said. “It happened. It is pretty exciting.”
A couple of Andrie’s teammates were close behind him. Junior Nathanael Williams was 21st at 30:14 and junior Dan Mahoney was 22nd at 30.14. Freshman Grant Colligan did his part in helping the Orediggers win a national title by finishing 33rd with a time of 30:25.
The fifth runner for the Orediggers was junior Seth Topper who finished 47th in a field of 246 runners.
“Our four, five guys sat back and worked as a team,” Mahoney said. “They kept going back and forth and they kept us in sight. They fought for it.
“We have been having a bit of a rough season and everything came together. We ran well on the right day and everybody ran out of its minds. It is a great day. You usually see Adams go up, so it is a big deal.”
And the future looks bright for Colorado Mines.
“On our entire team, I am the only senior. I am pretty excited to see where you guys go in the future,” said Andrie as he looked at Williams and Mahoney.”
Adams State women’s cross country wins nationals
Adams State junior Maura O’Brien dreamed about this moment, but when it happened, it felt surreal that the women’s team finished first Saturday in the 2015 NCAA Division II Women’s Cross Country National Championships.
Adams State scored 83 points on Tom Rutledge Course at Missouri Southern, edging out three-time defending champion Grand Valley State, which scored 97 points. Hillsdale was third with 140.
“It is pretty crazy, but it is the best,” O’Brien said. “It is probably the best feeling that I have had.
“We were the defending champions for eight years so it is good to bring it back. I am just proud that we brought it back to Adams. We are going to start a new streak.”
Adams State has now 19 women’s cross country national titles, 16 of them in NCAA Division II.
“We have such a history over the years,” said Adams State coach Damon Martin. “But over the last few years, we have been second, third or fourth. I think the last few years the girls have been feeling the pressure. They were really hungry.
“This year we have kind of a young crew, but they really brought it all year long. They were really focused. I think today with the conditions really windy, it had to be a team that kept battling and they did that.”
It took a team effort from Adams State to beat out Grand Valley. The Lakers were determined to hang on to its title.
Grand Valley’s top two runners finished ahead of Adams State top placers. Defending individual champion, junior Kendra Foley took second with a time of 20:03 on the 6K course and freshman Gina Patterson was ninth for the Lakers at 20:20.
“I am proud of Grand Valley and Hillsdale,” said Adams State junior Grace Tinkey “They did a good job, too. But I am really proud of us working together because I knew we could do it as a team. It was really fun.”
The first Adams State runner to cross the finish line was freshman Noel Prandoni, who took10th with a time of 20:21. She was followed closely by junior teammate Jenna Thurman, who placed 11th at 20:48 and O’Brien took 14th with a time of 20:56.5.
“I am extremely proud as a coach to coach young ladies who are focused, and they were really tough,” Martin said. “I am proud how they ran today.”
The final two scorers for Adams State were Tinkey in 21st and senior Kelsey Corbin in 33rd in a field of 247 runners.
“We have worked on our pack running the entire year,” O’Brien said. “That was the main thing. We knew it was going to take from our first runner to our fifth. We wanted to be as close as we could.”
As it turned out, it was a near-perfect day for Adams State. The men’s team finished second.
“It is the coaching,” O’Brien said. “We have a great coach. We live in a great place to train. We do the little things.
“It is one of those things that it is not luck. It is hard work and we put it in throughout the year.”