SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (NSU) – The No. 21 Northern State men’s basketball team (24-6, 18-4 NSIC) came up clutch yet again as they took down the Augustana Vikings (19-11, 13-9 NSIC) by a narrow 68-66 margin, sending the Wolves to the semi-finals of the NSIC/Sanford Health Basketball Tournament.
With less than seven seconds remaining in regulation, the Wolves found themselves tied with Augustana as a spot in the next round hung in the balance. As the clock ticked down Northern had just one more chance to avoid over time, a position they’ve thrived in all season long. This time it was Andrew Kallman who came up clutch as he drove to the basket, drew a blocking foul, and set himself up at the foul line.
Kallman cashed in both of his shots to give his team the lead with just 2.7 seconds remaining. They’d have to stop Augustana one more time, but as the Vikings attempted a full-court pass, Parker Fox, the 2019 NSIC defensive player of the year, looked like a free safety as he leaped up and plucked the ball out of the air to secure his team a spot in the semi-finals.
As the game got underway it was clear that the Wolves’ offense wasn’t in sync. Errant passes and uncharacteristic misses had allowed Augustana to extend a decent lead. However, Mason Stark came up clutch to end the half, launching a last second buzzer beater to send his team to the locker room with momentum despite a 30-33 deficit.
Northern seemed to come out after halftime as an entirely different team on offense. After they had scored just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc in the first half, Gabe King came out of the locker room and cashed in two straight 3-pointers to give the Wolves their first lead since the opening minutes.
The Vikings timely shooting from beyond the arc was keeping them in the game despite their 36.5% shooting accuracy. However, King remained clutch from 3-point range, allowing his team to manage the flow of momentum. It was a nail-biter the rest of the way, but the Wolves once again came up clutch when they needed to.
Northern shot 45.8% from the floor, 30.0% from beyond the arc and 50.0% from the free throw line. 32 of their points came from the paint, 11 from turnovers and five off the bench.
Leading the team in scoring was Gabe King with a season high of 22 points, continuing an impressive trend of 20 or more points in each of his last three games. Close behind was the always consistent Mason Stark, going 7-of-8 for 17 points.
Also scoring double digits was Parker Fox with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Tommy Chatman followed with seven points and five assists. Rounding out the night were Andrew Kallman, Cole Dahl and Jordan Belka, scoring three, three and two points respectively.
Up next, the Wolves will play in the semi-finals against the winner of Upper Iowa and MSU Moorhead. Tip-off will take place March 2 at the Sanford Pentagon at 12:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Pentagon box office or at ticketmaster.com.