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February 20, 2010

2009-10 Season - Vikings close regular season with a win

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Augustana got off to a slow start Saturday night at Carver Center, but was able to put things together late in the first half and eventually coast to a 72-55 win over North Central. The Vikings finish the regular season 16-9 overall and in fourth place in the CCIW at 9-5. North Central closes its season 12-13 overall and 5-9 in league play, good for sixth place.

North Central grabbed a 1-0 lead before the opening tip when the Vikings were assessed a technical for making a lineup change less than 10 minutes before tipoff. Cardinal freshman Todd Raridon made one of two from the line to give North Central the lead. They extended it to 6-0 on two David Twyman free throws and a Kevin Gillespie three-pointer.

The Cardinals consistently beat Augustana to loose balls and rebounds early in the half and held a 15-6 lead with 13:47 left when Kyle Nelson (Deerfield HS, Deerfield, Ill.) snared the Vikings first rebound of the game. North Central’s lead reached 11 points, its largest of the night, at 19-8 with 12:23 left before halftime.

From that point on the Vikings closed the half on a 37-13 run. Baskets by freshmen Kameron Norton (Downers Grove North HS, Downers Grove, Ill.) and Brandon Kunz (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, Ill.) started the run and a three-pointer from Chris Anderson (West Carroll HS, Mt. Carroll, Ill.) cut the Cardinal lead to four, 21-17 at the 10:15 mark.

Brian DeSimone’s (Buffalo Grove HS, Wheeling, Ill.) back-to-back three’s cut the lead to two and Nelson finally gave the Vikings their first lead of the night, 26-25, with a three-point play with just under seven minutes left. Matt Pelton’s (Bloomington, Ill. Central Catholic HS, Houston, Texas) three-pointer with 1:48 left gave Augustana its biggest lead of the half at 14, before the Vikings settled for a 45-32 lead at intermission.

Nelson finished with a dozen first half points while Pelton added seven, Kunz and DeSimone six each and freshman George Dexter (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) added five.

Behind Twyman’s game-high 23 points, the Cardinals were able to cut the Viking lead down to eight on three occasions in the second half, but never mounted a serious challenge. The lead grew to its largest at 70-51 on a pair of DeSimone free throws with 2:34 left.

Nelson led the Vikings with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists on the night. Kunz was the only other Augustana player to score in double figures with 10 points on a perfect five-of-five performance from the field. There was excellent balance behind those two as well, with Pelton and Dexter adding nine each, DeSimone eight, and Mike Avallone (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.), who earned his first career start, six.

Augustana ended up hitting 50 percent from the field (27 of 54) and .867 (13 of 15) from the free throw line. The Vikings also tightened up defensively in the second half, holding the potent Cardinal offense to just .333 (8 of 24) shooting from the field. North Central finished .438 (21 of 48) from the field on the night. Augustana also ended up with a 34-23 edge on the boards.

The Vikings now head to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Friday, February 26, to compete in the CCIW tournament. The only five-time participant in the event, Augustana will face league champion and host Carthage in a 7:30 p.m. semifinal on Friday. Second seed Wheaton and third seed Illinois Wesleyan will play in the other semifinal at 5:00 p.m. with the semifinal winners meeting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for the championship and league’s automatic big to the NCAA tournament.