If it was his final game in Carver Center, Augustana senior Dylan Sortillo made it a memorable one.
The one thing Sortillo and the Vikings know is that they still have more basketball to play in the NCAA Division III National Championships.
The former Bettendorf prep hit big shot after big shot in scoring a career-high 30 points in leading the Vikings to a 95-83 victory over Hope on Saturday night.
It advances the nationally ninth-ranked Vikings (24-5) to next weekend's third round to play No. 20 John Carroll on Friday. The other two teams in that bracket advancing are No. 24 UW-Oshkosh and No. 6 Emory. The site of next weekend's action will determined early today, but Augie coach Grey Giovanine was confident that his club would host, with Oshkosh knocking off third-ranked Wittenberg.
It is the fourth straight season the Vikings have advanced to the third round of tourney play, and they have some key moments to thank for that, not the least of which was Sortillo's outing, which included 7-of-10 shooting from 3-point range as part of his 10-of-16 shooting night.
“You look at the last couple of games and I had kind of been off,” said Sortillo. “These guys had continued confidence and stayed in my ears to continue to shoot when it's open. They found me some open shots early, and that really got me going.”
“He had been saving it up for a while,” Giovanine added with a smile.
“That's what a senior is supposed to do,” added the coach with more seriousness. “For Dylan to rise up and have basically a career game in the biggest moments of his career was just phenomenal. He's just not ready to go home yet. … He had the hot hand, and we kept going to him.”
Still, as Sortillo shot the Flying Dutchmen out their zone defense, the visitors from Michigan kept it close as they hounded the Vikings in a man-to-man defense the final 30 minutes.
It was three Sortillo free throws that started the game-changing spree. With 12:47 left in regulation and Augie nursing a 59-58 lead, Sortillo drilled all three freebies after being hit after a shot attempt. Nolan Ebel (16 points) followed with a bucket, and with the coach urging the standing-room crowd to get loud, Donovan Ferguson blocked a shot on the defensive end that led to Joe Kellen's breakaway bucket and a 66-58 lead.
Augie never trailed after that.
“There are certain moments in a game when the outcome is in the balance and something tips the scales,” said Giovanine. “That's what we needed. It got us momentum in the game, and we really took advantage of fit.”
Junior Chrishawn Orange added 21 points for the Vikings and Brett Benning 10. Lucas Simon had nice contributions off the bench with seven points and team-leading five rebounds.
Hope (19-10) was led by Jason Beckman and Dante Hawkins with 24 and 22 points, respectively.