A John Warren layup with less than four minutes left in the first half of Saturday’s game at NSIC South favorite Southwest Minnesota State gave Augustana a 33-32 lead, and the Vikings never trailed again in an 89-78 win over the Mustangs, a win that marked the 280th victory for head coach Tom Billeter at Augustana.
The Vikings third straight win boosts their record to 9-4 overall and to 4-3 the NSIC, while the hosts fall to 9-4 overall and to 5-2 in conference play.
The Vikings used runs of 6-0 and a 7-0 in the first half to open up a 25-14 lead nine minutes into the contest, only to see the Mustangs answer with runs of 6-0 and 9-0 to take a 29-27 lead, drawing a timeout from the Augustana bench.
Steven Schaefer ended the run with a bucket out of the timeout to tie the game at 29-all, but the Mustangs answered with a 3-pointer to retake the lead. The Vikings fired right back with a 10-0 run to go up 39-32 with 1:27 left in the first half, before taking a 39-34 lead into the locker room.
Augustana scored first in the second half, and SMSU scored the next five points to cut the lead to 41-39, but the Vikings came right back with an 8-0 run to increase the lead to 49-39 with 15 minutes, 17 seconds left in the game.
SMSU hit a 3-pointer to quell the run, but would get no closer than seven points the rest of the game, while the Augie lead grew to as many as 14 points.
Warren led four Vikings in double figures with a game-high 19 points, while Jordan Spencer tallied 17 points and a game-high 11 assists for his third double-double of the season. Adam Dykman pitched in with 16 points and Schaefer 15 points in the win. Marcus Asmus scored nine points and led the Vikings with 11 rebounds.
Carter Kirk led the Mustangs with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to complete the double double. Ryan Bruggeman added 14 points and Nick Dufault 12 in the loss.
The Vikings look to keep it rolling on Sunday, when they take on Sioux Falls at the Stewart Center at 4 p.m.
NOTES: Saturday’s game marked the 2,177th game in program history … Augustana leads the all-time series with SMSU, 20-13 … Augustana improves to 8-1 this season when leading at the half and won for the second straight time when making fewer 3-pointers than its opponent … the Vikings scored at least 50 points in a half for the fifth time this season … Spencer’s third double-double of the season gives him eight in his career ... Billiter's 280th win at Augustana marks the 377th in his career overall.
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