ABERDEEN, S.D. (KWSN) - Ethan Guske hit a 3-pointer with 46 second left that gave Augustana a lead they would hold onto to defeat Northern State 66-64 in the first round of the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament.
The Vikings move on to the quarterfinals with a 16-13 record while the Wolves' season likely ends with an 18-11 record. Seth Bachand tied the game at 60-60 with a jumper, but Guske's deep jumper off Adam Beyer's career-high ninth assist gave the Vikings a three-point cushion. Yuriy Malashenko pushed the lead to five at 65-60, but the Wolves didn't surrender with 22 seconds remaining.
A three-point field goal from Tydan Storrusten cut Augustana's led to two before Casey Schilling hit one of two free throws to give the Vikings a three-point led once again. Storrusten sank the first free throw after the Vikings fouled to detract from the Wolves shooting a 3pointer. Intentionally missing the second, Daniel Jansen grabbed the miss and Augustana escaped Wachs Arena with a two-point victory.
Augustana's bench played a key role in the game, scoring 32 points with Devin Gilligan and Matthew Brazendale both reaching double figures. Evan Pierce chipped in nine points as a non-starter, helping outscore the NSU reserves by a 14-point margin.
The Vikings surrendered double-digit leads at the end of each half, but their defense held the Wolves' three-point attack that plagued them in the first matchup at bay to hold on for the win. Trading blows early in the game, Augustana built its first-half lead with an 11-1 run over a four-minute span. Brazendale and Pierce each hit 3-pointers to give the Vikings a 22-17.
Gilligan then hit consecutive triples to answer Storrusten's three to give the Vikings a 10-point advantage with two minutes remaining in the half.
Both teams exchanged free throws and jumpers in the closing minutes of the first half, but the Wolves clawed back and entered the half down just three points. Casey Schilling tallied nine points and eight rebounds in the first stanza, leading the team in both categories and setting himself up for his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds at the end of the game.
Fouls plagued the Vikings early in the second half and Northern State retook the lead with four straight points to open the half. The lead was short-lived as Augustana strung together a 10-2 run for a seemingly comfortable seven-point margin at 48-41. That lead grew to 11 points after Brazendale's third three-point field goal of the game.
The Viking lead reached its pinnacle when Pierce sank three free throws, giving Augustana a 58-46 advantage with just over 10 minutes to play. Northern State chipped away at the lead, eventually cutting it to two points when Bachand's layup broke a three-minute scoring drought by both teams and capped off a 10-point run by the Wolves.
Trading buckets over the next minute, Bachand tied the game with his game-high 20th point, setting up Guske's late-game heroics.
The Vikings move onto a quarterfinal matchup with NSIC regular-season champion Minnesota State on Saturday, March 1 at 8:30 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Courtesy: Augustana College