DULUTH, Minn. (Augustana) – The Augustana men’s basketball team got its elusive win on the second day of a back-to-back in NSIC action Saturday topping the NSIC North Division favorites Minnesota Duluth, 87-82. The win pushes the Vikings back to .500 on the season at 11-11 and 7-9 in the NSIC. Minnesota Duluth falls to 15-7, 11-5, in the contest played in Duluth, Minnesota.
Much in the same fashion as Friday night, Augustana led for the majority of the contest and only had a deficit as large as seven points which occurred before the midway point of the first half.
When that deficit occurred, Augustana simply went on a 15-1 run over 4:07 of game clock to open a 26-19 lead. The run was started thanks to a Jackson Loge pass to Akoi Akoi for an easy layup and was followed by a 3-point basket from Jadan Graves.
With Augustana now trailing 18-16, Graves scored an old-fashioned 3-point play. Sam Rensch then made a steal and Augustana received two points from Isaac Fink on a jumper.
After UMD went 1-of-2 at the charity stripe, Ryan Miller received a pass from Fink for a 3-point basket as the 15-1 run concluded with a Caden Hinker layup, giving AU a 26-19 lead with 7:50 remaining in the first half.
The Vikings’ lead got as large as eight points in the opening half and entered halftime leading 43-36.
The second half saw the Bulldogs take a bite out of Augustana’s lead, trimming it down to just two points with 14:10 remaining on an Austin Andrews dunk, but Augustana fought right back with a jumper from Graves and an and-one from Bennett Otto.
Augustana’s lead then stretched to 12 points as Akoi hit a jumper to give AU the 70-58 advantage with 7:40 on the clock.
Minnesota Duluth then began to trim away at Augustana’s lead, again shrinking it to single digits. An unfortunate string of events gave UMD a five-point possession as a 3-point basket was made and a foul was called away from the ball. With that possession pulling UMD within one at 83-82, Augustana just went to the free throw line and made its shots while not allowing another point from UMD.
Graves went 2-for-2 and Fink mimicked 15 seconds later to seal the 87-82 win.
For the second straight day, the Vikings placed five in double-figure scoring Saturday led by Fink and Miller with 18 points each. Graves totaled 17 points while Akoi and Rensch each added 12. Rensch matched his season-best with his 12 points.
Miller and Fink each led AU with eight rebounds. Miller’s eight rebounds are a season-best.
The Vikings shot 49.2 percent from the field while making 29-of-59 field goal attempts. In addition, AU went 20-of-21 at the free throw line for a season-best 95.2 percent.
Augustana remains on the road next weekend with contests at Winona State and Upper Iowa. The Vikings face WSU Friday at 5:30 p.m. and UIU Saturday at 3:30 p.m.