ROCK ISLAND — After Wednesday's thrilling two-point victory at Wheaton gave the Augustana men's basketball its fourth straight win and third straight on the road, the Vikings returned home to take on Carthage at the Carver Center on Saturday night.
A scrappy performance by the Red Men and a hot start shooting the ball by Carthage put the fifth-ranked Vikings down early. Carthage made eight of its first 10 shots to build its largest lead of the game, a 24-12 advantage at the 11:57 mark of the first half.
After leading 8-6 in the opening minute, the Vikings did not lead again until a Chrishawn Orange triple gave Augie a 59-56 edge with six minutes to play. But after a 61-all tie with 4:55 left, Carthage led the rest of the way, holding on to upset the fifth-ranked Vikings 81-78.
Carthage improved to 11-7, 6-3 in the CCIW. Augustana slipped to 15-4, 7-3 in conference.
A Dylan Sortillo 3-pointer made it a one possession game with :02.2 left, and Augie nearly intercepted the long-distance inbounds pass. But it was the Red Men who escaped with the hard-fought victory.
Brad Kruse led Carthage with a game-high 20 points; Kienan Baltimore (13 points), Brad Perry (12 points), and Derek Mason (11 points) also chipped in double-figure scoring for the Red Men.
Nolan Ebel and Orange led Augie with 19 points apiece; Sortillo (4-for-6 3s) scored 16.
Carthage made 23 of its 26 free throws for the game; Augie was just 13-of-21 from the charity stripe.
Perry did not play the last time the two teams met, a 70-61 Augie road win on Dec. 9.
"They have outstanding individual talent," said Augustana coach Grey Giovanine. "They beat us on the boards. We took a lead, and they made a couple big 3s to really separate. We missed free throws, and you just can't do that against a good team."
Carthage held a 39-28 rebounding advantage for the game, including plus-five in offensive boards. Augustana hosts CCIW-leading Illinois Wesleyan on Wednesday.
"In conference play you don't get a chance to lick your wounds very long. You've got to get ready for the next opponent," said Giovanine. "And that's exactly what we'll do."
"We just got beat at home like Duke and North Carolina did today. It happens."