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February 3, 2009

2008-09 Season - Furious second half rally falls just short in 72-62 loss at North Central for women's basketball team

NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Trailing by 18 at halftime, the Augustana women’s basketball team staged a furious rally in the second half to cut the deficit to three points late in the game, but eventually fell 72-62 at North Central on Tuesday, February 3 in Naperville, Illinois.  The Vikings drop to 3-17 overall and 1-8 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.

The contest was low scoring in the opening minutes as the defenses controlled the action.  Sophomore Lisa Smith (Lemont HS, Lemont, Ill.) became the fourth different Viking to score when she converted a lay-up to tie the game at 8-8 with 12:34 to play in the first half.  Freshmen Lani Kasten (German Valley HS, Forreston, Ill.) and Natalie Runge (St. Dominic HS, O’Fallon, Mo.), along with senior Sarah Rachwalski (Amos Alonzo Stagg HS, Palos Hills, Ill.) scored the first three baskets for the Augustana attack. 

Sophomore Dawn Kernich (Mt. Olive HS, Mt. Olive, Ill.) and freshman Kristina Howard (Cherokee Trail HS, Aurora, Colo.) scored the next two buckets for the visitors, but North Central started pulling away during that time, grabbing a 24-12 advantage before the Vikings called timeout.  Kasten scored for Augustana at 5:41 of the first half to close the gap to 10 points, but that was as close as the Vikings would be in the opening stanza as the Cardinals used a 15-7 run to finish the half with a commanding 39-21 advantage.

Just over four minutes into the second half, things did not look much better for Augustana as North Central still led by 18 points at 43-25, but that was when the Viking offense came alive.  Rachwalski made three lay-ups and freshman Brianna Skeens (Vernon Hills HS, Vernon Hills, Ill.) scored two of her own to pull the Blue & Gold to 43-35 with 12:33 remaining.  The scoring spree continued with back-to-back jumpers from junior Kristen Fox (Ottawa HS, Ottawa, Ill.) and Augustana was quickly within four points at 43-39 with 9:36 to play after a 14-0 run.

The Cardinals were able to hold onto the lead and pushed the advantage back to nine points at 56-47 with only 6:25 remaining.  Once again, Augustana responded by chipping away at the Cardinal advantage.  Fox hit the lone three point field goal of the night for the Vikings to cut the lead to 59-55 and the North Central edge later fell to three points after a made free throw by Rachwalski made the score 61-58 with 2:45 to play.

Brianne Parra knocked in a key three point shot for the Cardinals to push the lead back to six points and North Central converted eight straight free throw attempts down the stretch to hold off the Viking rally and preserve the 10 point win.

Fox (pictured above) led the Vikings with 15 points and was also joined in double figures by Rachwalski (12) and Runge (10).  Fox also led Augustana with eight rebounds.

North Central received a game-high 21 points from Jessica Davis, who nailed five three pointers during the game.  Parra scored 16 points and Meghan McGuire was also in double figures with 12 points.  Jackie Errico had 11 rebounds.

Story written by Assistant Sports Information Director Adam Strand