No. 13 Augustana couldn't overcome its worst shooting night of the season in a 64-56 loss to No. 14 Wayne State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play on Saturday. The Vikings fell to 7-3 (3-3 NSIC) on the year, while the Wildcats improved to 12-1 (5-1 NSIC) and completed the season sweep of Augustana with the victory.
Riley Nordgaard, limited by foul trouble, led the Vikings with a game-high 14 points and seven rebounds. Katie Meister again provided a lift for Augustana off the bench against Wayne State with nine points and nine rebounds.
The Wildcats' Jordan Spencer poured in 13 points and grabbed six boards. Ellen Hansen had arguably her best game of the season, recording a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Things opened up with both teams trading baskets for the majority of the first five minutes of the contest. Wayne State would hold an 11-8 advantage at the first media timeout. Millie Niggeling would lead the way for the Wildcats, scoring five of their first 11 points.
Meister would score five quick points for the Vikings on two straight offensive possessions. The outburst was part a 7-2 run by Augustana to take a 15-13 lead at the 9:45 mark in the first half.
Wayne State would answer with an 11-3 run of its own over a 4:17 timespan to take a 24-18 lead with 4:53 remaining until halftime. The Wildcats would do it by getting into the bonus and converting its opportunities at the charity stripe, going six for six during the run.
The Vikings went cold for the remainder of the half, going 1 for 13 after Meister's 3-pointer at the 12:54 mark, with the lone make an Alex Kneeland 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the half.
Wayne State closed the half with a 19-9 run in the final 9:05 minutes, taking a 34-26 lead into halftime. The Wildcats were led by Niggeling's nine points. Wayne State also shot 15 of 18 (83.3 percent) from the foul line in the first half.
Augustana would finish the first half shooting a tough 6 of 28 (21.4 percent) from the field. It marked the first time that the Vikings have shot under 30 percent in a half since playing Dowling College last year in the NCAA tournament.
Nordgaard was Augustana's leading scorer with six points. Rhianna Gullickson chipped in five points and five rebounds.
The second half got underway with the Wildcats becoming more aggressive and attacking the paint, resulting in an 11-6 run to open the half. All but one of Wayne State's baskets were layups in the run.
The Vikings would respond coming out of the media timeout with Gullickson making a contested layup, cutting the Wildcats' lead to 11 at 45-34. The junior's layup was part of a 11-7 Augustana push over a little less than five minutes midway through the second half. Emily Schulte capped it off by breaking her 0-for-9 start by hitting a Vikings' 3-pointer with 9:40 remaining in the game.
Augustana would make one last effort to get back into the game that began after two made Shaunteva Ashley free throws with six minutes remaining, sparking an 8-1 run that cut the Wayne State to five at 58-53.
Wayne State would not allow the Vikings any closer than that for the rest of the way, making key free throws the rest of the way on its to winning 64-56.
A night to forget
The Vikings shot a season-low 29 percent (18 of 62) from the field in the last game of the year for Augustana in 2013.
• The Vikings' 56 points were a season low.
• Augustana drops to 4-1 this year when having more than 10 steals in a game.
• Gullickson's four steals are a new career-high.
• This is the first game this season the Vikings have not had multiple double-figure scorers.
• Augustana's three 3-pointers made are a new season low.
• The Wildcats' 36 free-throw attempts tie a season high for the opposition against the Vikings.
Augustana returns to action on Jan. 3 to take to the road to face Minot State at 6 p.m.
Courtesy: Chris Smith, Assistant Sports Information Director, Augustana College