One stop and three turnovers was all it took Wednesday to change the complexion of Augustana’s 92-77 men’s basketball win over Illinois Wesleyan.
The Vikings led the 22nd-ranked Titans 39-38 at halftime but used an 8-0 surge during the first two minutes, 20 seconds of the second half to position themselves for the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin victory at the Carver Center.
“We knew at halftime what we had to do and it started on the defensive end,’’ Augustana guard Chrishawn Orange said. “We came out and brought the energy we needed, got some stops and everything feeds off of that.’’
Illinois Wesleyan missed a jump shot on its first possession of the half and after three straight turnovers, a basket by Dylan Sortillo gave the Vikings a 47-38 advantage and forced Titans coach Ron Rose to take a timeout with 17:40 remaining in the game.
“Those first minutes of the second half, they took control, built the lead up to nine, 10 points and it pretty much stayed there the rest of the way until we had to start fouling,’’ Rose said. “I was very disappointed in our defense. It just wasn’t there.’’
Augustana connected on 60.7 percent of its shots in the second half, knocking down 17-of-28 shots, and hit for 56.9 percent for the game.
Illinois Wesleyan did pull within 57-53 on a basket by Andy Stempel with 12:26 remaining, but Orange answered.
The sophomore, who led Augustana by scoring 15 of his game-high 19 points after halftime, collected seven of those points in a span of 45 seconds midway through the half.
Orange recorded one of his three steals and grabbed a rebound during that stretch as well, helping the Vikings regain a 66-53 margin when he hit two free throws with 9:45 remaining.
“When he gets going in the open court, he’s tough to slow down,’’ Vikings coach Grey Giovanine said.
Get breaking news sent instantly to your inbox
That stretch was reflective of the energy Augustana (11-3, 4-1 CCIW) brought to the court over the final 20 minutes to turn back the Titans, led by 16 points from Brady Rose.
It was an effort which came after both teams battled through a physical opening half which saw Illinois Wesleyan take a 29-23 lead at the 9:06 mark on consecutive three-pointers by Nick Coleman.
But the Titans (11-4, 3-3) were limited to one field goal over the next seven minutes and dealt with five of the six shots blocked by Micah Martin as the Vikings battled back.
“I didn’t think we played with a great fire or passion in the first half, but that changed after halftime and we needed it to,’’ Giovanine said. “If you’re going to beat a good team like that, the energy has to be there.’’
Illinois Wesleyan played for the first time without Trevor Seibring, who is second on the team in scoring and leads the Titans’ rebounding attack and will miss at least a few games with a back problem.
“So much of what we do offensively we run through him, relieving pressure with a post pass, so it does change what we do,’’ Rose said. “But, when you let shoot 58 percent and give up 50 points in the second half, you aren’t going to beat anybody.’’