Augustana was muscled into a 67-69 defeat at Bemidji State on Saturday night after committing 20 turnovers. The Vikings’ overall record falls to 9-3, 5-3 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference competition. The Beavers improve to 7-5 overall, 5-3 in NSIC action.
Augustana fought back from an eight-point deficit at the midway point of the second half, but Bemidji State racked up seven second half steals and hit free throws to ice the game.
Alex Richter hit four consecutive free throws to draw the Vikings within one point with 6:29 left in the game. Richter then hit a jumper and Yuriy Malashenko erased the lead with a three from the right wing, tying the game at 59-59 with five minutes to play.
A BSU layup was answered by Daniel Jansen’s two free throws after a hard foul threw the freshman forward to the ground. Lance Rongstad then hit a three to give the Beavers a cushion they would never relinquish with 2:29 left in the contest.
Cameron McCaffrey hit a layup on traffic to break a personal scoring drought of 7:36 and put the Vikings backl within one, down 63-64. Two free throws by Dremaine Crockrell were answered by Richter to bring the game back within one.
Crockrell then hit a pair of shots from the free throw line again to give Bemidji State its three-point cushion back. McCaffrey and Malashenko couldn’t convert on the Vikings’ offensive end and BSU corralled the rebound.
Mason Walters hit one of two from the line to make it a four point game, 69-65, with 12 seconds remaining. Richter missed a desperation three and McCaffrey dropped in a putback as time expired to arrive at the final score; 69-67 in favor of Bemidji State
The Vikings shot 48.9 percent from the field including a 6-18 showing from behind the arc. Bemidji State finished the night at 40.7 percent and hit 78.9 percent (15-19) from the foul line.
McCaffrey scored a game-high 21 points and Richter was second with 15, tying a career-high. Both were perfect from the foul stripe, McCaffrey converting all four of his attempts and Richter a perfect 6-6.
The first half opened physical for both teams and neither team was willing to give any ground. In the opening 20 minutes, both team jockeyed for the upper hand and the game had featured six lead changes and six tie scores.
Augustana’s largest lead in the first half was three points, on three occasions, while Bemidji State’s Michael Farrington made consecutive buckets to give the Beavers their largest lead of five with 4:45 to play in the first half.
McCaffrey followed a Viking free throw with a three-pointer to cut the lead to one less than a minute later and the Vikings took the lead off of a Richter jumper. BSU’s Sean Jones hit a jumper and converted the ensuing free throw for a three-point play to tie the game after Casey Schilling’s free throws.
Jones then made two more foul shots for a slight margin and McCaffrey answered with a jumper. Waiting for the last shot of the half, McCaffrey saw an opportunity for three-point attempt and was fouled in the act of shooting. The senior guard converted all three foul shots and the Vikings took a 30-27 lead into intermission.
To open the second half, the Vikings built a five-point lead three times, but a trio of turnovers and Bemidji State three-pointers swayed the momentum in favor of the Beavers. Farrington hit consecutive shots again to give BSU a game-high lead of eight at 13:53 and lasted three minutes.
Freshman Zach Huisken converted an and-one to spark a run that led up to Richter’s free throws to tighten the game.
Malashenko grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for the Vikings and Mason Walters ripped down 10 boards to pair with his 14 points for a double-double.
Augustana now travels to play Minnesota, Crookston at 6 p.m. on Saturday Jan. 12.
Courtesy: Eric Zahn, Augustana