After being sidelined for nearly two weeks because of COVID-19-related issues in each program, both the Augustana men’s and women’s basketball teams jumped back into action Thursday evening with differing results.
In Chicago, coach Steve Schafer’s men’s club used a furious second-half rally to pull off an 80-75 CCIW victory over the hosting North Park Vikings.
In the home confines of Carver Center, coach Mark Beinborn’s women’s team didn't fare as well, suffering through a tough offensive effort that resulted in a 66-52 league setback to North Park.
Augie 80, North Park 75 (men): Augie trailed 45-38 at halftime and was down 51-38 just over two minutes into the second half in the North Park Gym.
But somehow, the visiting Vikings found a way to not only battle back into the game but win it in the final two minutes.
“I thought we out-worked them, out-toughed them and out-competed them in the second half,” said Schafer, noting the staff made a couple of quick fixes to both the offensive and defensive plans. “We dug ourselves a hole again, but the guys found a way to get out of it. These guys are learning how to win.”
Daniel Carr led Augie (4-2, 4-2 CCIW) with game-highs of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Carter Duwa added 18 points, Tyler Knuth tossed in 13 and Luke Johnson 11, including two key free throws late in the game.
Toby Mark led NPU (1-9, 1-9 CCIW) with 21 points, leading three hosting Vikings in double digits.
Augie, which hit five of its first eight 3-point attempts in the second half, led just once in the first 18½ minutes of the second half. That came when Carr hit two free throws with 6:28 left in regulation for a 70-69 lead.
NPU then got back in front and held the advantage until Johnson hit a pair of free throws in a one-and-bonus situation with 1:28 left that gave Augie a 76-75 lead. The visitors never trailed after that.
Both clubs missed jumpers on their ensuing possessions that took the clock down to 40 seconds remaining. After a NPU timeout, Carr blocked a short jump shot attempt by Jordan Boyd that Augie controlled.
On Augie’s next possession, Carter Duwa was fouled and hit two free throws to up the lead to 78-75.
Then Matt Hanushewsky forced a turnover at mid-court and from his back side flipped the ball over his head to an open Jack Jelen, who was fouled with :07.9 on the clock. Jelen hit both free throws to seal the deal.
Augie was 17-of-19 at the free-throw line with its last six points of the win coming from the stripe.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Schafer, noting his team had two ugly 1½-hour practices to prepare after the quarantine. “The resiliency this year and how we've rolled with the punches and responded ... just so proud of these guys.”
NPU 66, Augie 52 (women): It was a rough return to the court for Augie’s women, who shot just 35.3% (18 of 51) from the field and committed 22 turnovers as they had their three-game win streak snapped to fall to 3-2, 3-2 in CCIW play.
“We looked out of synch,” said Beinborn. “We did not deal well with retaining coming off that break, retaining things we were doing well in the last couple of games.”
Freshman Hannah Simmer led a balanced Augie offense with 10 points. Gabbi Loiz and Linnea Johansen each added nine. Lauren Hall led the Vikings with nine rebounds to lead a 44-40 board edge, and she added six points to the coffers. Justice Edell contributed seven points and two steals.
While Augie had just one player in double-digit scoring, NPU (5-3, 5-3 CCIW) had four, led by Sinead Molloy and Zakiya Newsome with 15 each.
Augie led just three times in the opening quarter, the final time on a Hall layup with :07 left in the frame. That gave the hosts a 14-13 lead after 10 minutes.
NPU then scored the first seven points of the second quarter to take a 20-14 lead with 4:35 left in the stanza and never gave up the advantage as Augie could only pull within two just once after that.
Moving forward, Beinborn is hoping his club can duplicate the start of the season. His Vikings were in a COVID-19 quarantine and missed practices ahead of an ugly season-opening loss to Wheaton. With a few practices under their belts, they rattled off three straight wins before this latest shutdown.
Augie had just three practices ahead of Thursday’s loss and is facing a quick turnaround to Saturday’s afternoon rematch with NPU in Chicago.
“That’s what we did last time,” said Beinborn of hopefully getting back up to speed quickly in this re-start, too. “We’re going to have setbacks, but what defines us is how we respond to it. They responded well last time and I’m expecting them to respond well this time.”