March 14, 2009

Courtesy of Augustana (S.D.)

David Foster hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Augustana to a 73-72 win over St. Cloud State in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Central Regional Tournament Saturday afternoon in Marshall, Minn.

With the win, Augustana improved to 20-9, giving the Vikings back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in 20 years.

The seventh-seeded Vikings led for most of the game, but found themselves trailing 72-70 with 2.8 seconds left to play. Mike Klepatz, who played quarterback for 2 seasons at Augustana, threw a length of the court pass to Eric Krogman, who caught the ball at the top of the circle. With 3 defenders coverging on him, Krogman quickly passed the ball to Foster on the right wing, who shot the ball just before the final horn sounded.

According to Foster, the fact so many Huskies, including his defender Brett Carmichael, converged on Krogman was the key to the winning basket.

“Carmichael went towards Krogs, which is what we wanted him to do,” Foster said. “That gave me the split-second I needed to set my feet. As soon as I let it go, it felt good.”

The win propelled the Vikings Augustana into the regional semifinals for the second-straight season. The Vikings will face sixth-seeded Winona State on Sunday at 5 p.m. Winona State upended No. 3 seed Metro State 60-59 in the first game of the day.

Augustana got off to a fast start. The Vikings made their first 4 shots of the game as they jumped out to an 11-4 lead just 2 minutes into the contest. Krogman ignited the charge as he scored Augie’s first 8 points on a jumper, a 3-pointer and a 3-point play.

Following 2 free throws by SCSU’s Jesse Fisher, Augustana went on a 9-0 run to increase its lead to 20-6 with 14:44 left in the half.

As hot as the Vikings were from the field, hitting 7 of their first 10 shots, St. Cloud State struggled to find its shot. The Huskies made just 1 of their first 10 field goal attempts and went nearly 6 minuts without a basket.

The percentages started to even out and the Huskies chipped away at Augustana’s lead, eventually pulling to within 4 points at 36-32 with 2:20 left in the half. But the Vikings closed the period strong as Marques Blank scored the final 5 points of the half to give the Vikings a 41-32 lead at the break.

Augustana began the second half much like the first as the Vikings made their first 3 shots of the half to push the lead to 15 at 47-32 with 17:30 on the clock. SCSU, meanwhile, did not score its first points of the period until Carmichael scored at the 16:17 mark.

The teams traded baskets for the next 5 minutes, when SCSU began to make a charge. Trailing 57-42, the Huskies scored 7 straight points to cut the Viking lead to 57-49 with just under 10 minutes to play.

St. Cloud State continued to chip away at the lead, limiting the Vikings to 1 field goal in 5 minutes. That enabled the Huskies to outscored Augie 10-2 to tie the game 61-61 with 4:07 remaining.

The game was again tied at 63-63 when Foster buried a 3-pointer at the 2:25 mark to give the Vikings a 66-63 edge. Augustana held the lead until Taylor Witt hit a jumper with 49.2 seconds to give the Huskies a 69-68 lead, their first lead since 2-0 in the opening minute of the game.

On Augie’s next possession, Blank missed a shot, but Foster got the rebound but could not convert the putback. Brett Putz got the rebound, was fouled and proceeded to hit both free throws to put the Huskies up 71-68 with 14.9 seconds left.

Jordan Dalton was then fouled with 10.4 seconds left and made both charity tosses to cut the lead to 71-70. Putz then missed 2 free throws with 8.5 seconds left. Blank brought the ball upcourt but was whistled for a charge with 3.6 seconds left.

Witt was fouled on the inbounds play but only made 1 of 2 free throws, setting up Foster’s game-winning basket.

Foster led 4 Vikings in double figures with 20 points. Lee Stephens finished with 14 points, while Krogman and Blank chipped in with 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Witt scored a game-high 21 points for St. Cloud State. Matt Schneck added 17 points, while Carmichael tossed in 11.