Ali Wilkinson’s two free throws with 5.1 seconds left gave Minnesota State an 80-79 victory over Augustana to spoil the Vikings’ undefeated season. Augustana’s first loss drops their overall record to 9-1, 5-1 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action and the Mavericks improve to 8-1 overall, 5-1 in the NSIC.
Augustana gained a lead with 7:10 left in the first half and stretched it to 17 points at the 12-minute mark in the second. The Vikings held that lead until Wilkinson was fouled and sank two of her 15 free throws with 5.1 seconds left.
Wilkinson banked in a layup to cut the lead to one before the Maverick defense forced Augustana into a shot clock violation.
A Lydia Nelson turnaround jumper and an Emily Schulte three-pointer gave Augustana a six-point lead with 3:29 remaining in the contest. Wilkinson answered with a layup and Schulte nailed both her free throws but Jamie Bresnahan hit a three to cut the lead in half just under the two-minute mark.
A forced three late in the shot clock by the Vikings led to a layup for the Mavericks. Alex Feeney was fouled and sank her two free throws to give Augustana a three-point cushion. Wilkinson then closed out the game with four straight points to take the victory.
Wilkinson’s career night spoiled the splendid performance from Cami Koehn who finished with a career high 15 points, tied with Feeney for a team-high. Koehn was 3-6 from the field, including 2-4 from behind the arc, but did her damage at the free throw line hitting 7-10.
The Vikings defense continued to play well holding MSU to 30.6 percent shooting, but the Mavericks hit 27-32 at the free throw line for 84.4 percent. The Vikings converted 69.4 percent of their free throws and shot 46.4 percent from the field but were doomed by 19 turnovers which turned into 19 MSU points.
A sluggish start from the Vikings put them in a hole early and the first half stayed relatively tight. Augustana held a slight lead after Koehn hit a three-pointer after the Vikings missed their first five shots from behind the arc.
The Mavericks went on a 9-0 run led by Wilkinson, the second leading scorer in the NSIC, and her six points to give MSU a seven point lead, 20-13.
Augustana’s balanced scoring attack would not falter and countered with a 13-2 run in which five different Vikings scored and the home team led 28-22. Eight of Augustana’s 13 points in the run came in the paint as they started to exert their size advantage over the Mavericks.
Wilkinson continued to carry the Mavericks but Feeney and Ashley answered with buckets of their own including a jumper from Feeney just as the shot clock was expiring.
Koehn hit her third three-point basket of the half to give the Vikings a nine-point lead but she then turned the ball over at half court resulting in an MSU layup.
Andrea Whitney hit a layup after a Koehn free throw but Augustana gave up a second chance layup in the waning seconds of the half and the score at the intermission was 39-32 in favor of the Vikings.
Koehn led the Vikings with 11 points including three makes from behind the arc while six other Vikings scored. The first-half comeback was fueled by the Augustana bench who outscored MSU’s bench 24-7 in the first half.
Wilkinson led all scorers in the first stanza with 18 on 6-12 shooting, but no other Maverick managed more than four points.
After starting the game 1-9, the Vikings responded, hitting 12-19, including 3-3 on three-point attempts, for a 46.4 percent shooting percentage. The Vikings’ stalwart defense held MSU to 30.6 percent shooting with a 1-11 mark from three.
To open the second half, the Vikings used a 10-5 run and expanded that lead to 15 twice after a pair of free throws from Feeney and Koehn each. Koehn hit a layup to push the lead to 17 at 60-43, but the Mavericks wouldn’t stay down.
Using free throws, led by Wilkinson at the charity stripe, Minnesota State cut the lead to four points at the 6:17 mark. The two teams traded buckets and after two free throws from MSU’s Karlee Gengenbacher, the Viking lead was down to three, 70-67 with 4:57 to play.
Shaunteva Ashley finished with 13 points, but shot an uncharacteristic 3-8 from the free throw line where she has been hitting 87 percent on the season.
The Vikings return to action Saturday evening at 4 p.m. against Concordia-St. Paul at the Elmen Center
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