ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AUGUSTANA) — The Augustana men’s basketball team dropped its season-opening 76-72 Friday at Missouri Western. The Vikings used a 16-0 run to knot the game at 72-all but were unable to pull away for the victory.
Isaac Fink scored 15 second-half points to match Jadan Graves with a team-high 17 points while Arhman Lewis netted 12 points in his collegiate debut. Joining the trio in double-digit scoring was Brady Helgren with 19 points.
The contest was the season opener for both teams as part of the Hillyard Classic hosted by Missouri Western.
Neither team could grab a footing in the first half as there were seven lead changes and six ties. The two teams entered the intermission knotted at 41.
The home team pushed a 13-point lead with a 63-50 score with 12:21 remaining in the contest but AU fought back to pull within nine points thanks to a pair of free throws from Fink and a layup from Helgen.
Missouri Western then rebuilt its lead to 16 points to set up Augustana’s 16-point comeback with 5:42 remaining in the game. Akoi Akoi started the run with a layup and Lewis quickly followed with a jumper.
After a pair of Fink free throws, the Vikings trailed 72-62 with 4:28 remaining in the game.
The Vikings clamped down defensively, as Akoi secured the rebound to push it the other way. That opened up Graves for a 3-point basket and a 72-65 score. Fink added another trey and was followed by a Helgren dunk.
After a pair of possessions with no points either way, the Vikings took over the ball with 57 seconds on the clock. After moving the ball around, Lewis hit Fink for a layup to knot the game at 72-all, completing the 16-point comeback.
The Griffons took the ensuing possession towards the basket, missed, but secured the offensive rebound where a foul occurred. A pair of free throws from JaRon Thames pushed the lead to two points before the final score settled at 76-72.
Augustana shot 45.5 percent from the field with MWSU shooting 45.2 percent. To add to the near evenness of the contest, both teams scored 36 points in the paint.
Augustana plays in a neutral-site contest in St. Joseph, Missouri, Saturday against Southeastern Oklahoma State. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m.