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January 23, 2010

2009-10 Season - Red-hot Vikings defeat North Central

NAPERVILLE, Ill.—Behind its best shooting performance in over five years, the Augustana Viking basketball team was able to outlast North Central by a score of 81-71 in Naperville, Illinois on Saturday. The Vikings got big offensive performances from two veterans as Kyle Nelson (Deerfield HS, Deerfield, Ill.) converted 11 of 13 field goal attempts for a game-high 22 points and Matt Pelton (Bloomington, Ill. Central Catholic HS, Houston, Texas) buried six of nine three-point tries and added 19 points.

Augustana led for most of the first half, but never by more than five points—a margin they achieved on five separate occasions in the opening 20 minutes. However, a 15-6 run by the Cardinals over a 3½-minute span late in the half gave them their biggest lead of the night at 40-36. Pelton’s fourth three-pointer of the half and a David Twyman free throw for North Central put the Cardinal lead at 41-39 at intermission.

Both teams burned up the nets in the opening half. The Cardinals hit .625 (15 of 24) from the field and were led by freshman Derek Raridon’s 13 points on 6-of-10 field goal shooting. Twyman added a dozen first-half points on four of five field goals and Reid Barringer connected on three of four shots from the floor and scored nine points. Meanwhile Augustana hit .615 (16 of 26) from the field, paced by Pelton’s four of five 3’s for 12 points, Nelson’s 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and Troy Rorer (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa), who hit three of four from the floor and added seven points.

A Nelson bucket on a feed from Pelton gave the Vikings their first lead of the second half with 18:34 left. The lead see-sawed until the 14:18 mark when a key play occurred. Twyman, who had lit Augustana up for 18 to that point, was called for his third personal foul and also got his fourth when he protested the call and was hit with a technical. Brian DeSimone (Buffalo Grove HS, Wheeling, Ill.) converted one of the two free throws and Mike Avallone (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.) followed a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Vikings a 54-50 lead.

Still, North Central battled back and took its final lead of the night, 59-58, on a Raridon trey with 8:56 remaining. DeSimone buried a three 18 seconds later to regain the lead for the Vikings and after Twyman’s layup with 6:04 left tied the game for the last time, it was Pelton arching a trey over the outstretched Twyman to give Augustana the lead for good.

The Vikings pushed the lead to 10 on a DeSimone free throw with 52 seconds left and it reached 12 on a pair of Avallone free throws with 27 ticks remaining. The Cardinals’ Brian Evans hit a bucket with 22 seconds left to account for the final margin.

Amazingly, the Vikings shot it even better in the second stanza, connecting on 15 of 23 field goals for a .652 percentage. For the game Augustana connected on .633 from the floor (31 of 49), its best mark since hitting .647 at St. Ambrose on December 1, 2004. Conversely, the team did a much better job defensively in half number two, holding Raridon to just seven points and limiting the Cardinals to a .423 percentage (11-26) from the field.

Rorer joined Nelson and Pelton in double figures with 10 points and Avallone added a timely nine off the bench. Four Cardinals reached double figures with Twyman scoring 22, Raridon 19, Barringer 12 and Evans 10. Nelson had six rebounds and Evans seven to lead their respective teams.

The win moves the Vikings to 11-6 on the year and 4-2 in CCIW play while the Cardinals fall to 8-9 overall and 1-5 in the conference. Augustana will finish the first half of the conference season with a trip to Bloomington, Illinois to face league co-leader Illinois Wesleyan on Wednesday, January 27. Game time is 7:30 p.m.