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December 2, 2011

2011-12 Season - Defense in second half keys win

Senior Chris Anderson was the lone Augustana player in double figures as the number one ranked Vikings defeated Wisconsin Lutheran 74-46 on Friday, December 2 in St. Louis at the Lopata Classic.

ST. LOUIS, Missouri - After struggling in the first half against Wisconsin Lutheran in the first round of the Lopata Classic in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday, December 2, number one ranked Augustana turned to its defense in the second half.

The result was a 74-46 victory that pushed the Vikings into the championship game against host Washington, an 84-72 winner over Whittier in the other first round game. The two teams will meet at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 3 at the Washington Field House.

For the first 20 minutes on Friday afternoon, nothing was certain as Augustana, hindered by 11 turnovers, was clinging to a 31-29 lead. After the intermission, however, the Vikings turned things up a notch on the defensive end and limited the Warriors to just three second half field goals. Veteran head coach Grey Giovanine watched as his club did not allow Wisconsin Lutheran a single three point field goal in eight attempts in the final 20 minutes. The Augustana defense forced the Warriors into .136 (3 of 22) shooting from the field after halftime.

In the early going of the game Wisconsin-Lutheran actually held a seven point lead (21-14) after a three point field goal by Russell Strutz with 10:24 to play. The Vikings went on an 8-0 run and took a 22-21 lead at the 5:37 mark on a pair of free throws by Brian DeSimone (Buffalo Grove HS, Wheeling, Ill.). The game was tied at 29-29 with 1:56 to play after a basket by the Warriors Alex Merbach but a layup by junior Brandon Kunz (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, Ill.) at 1:02 gave Augustana a 31-29 lead heading into halftime.

Wisconsin Lutheran tied the game at 31-31 to start the second half on two free throws by Andy Thusius. It was at this point that the Vikings took over, ripping off a 19-7 run to push the advantage to 50-38 with 8:52 left after a basket by Kunz. That burst was followed by a 15-2 explosion and with 4:47 remaining in the game the advantage had grown to 23 points (65-42). Over the first 15-plus minutes of the second half, Augustana outscored the Warriors 34-13.

Senior Chris Anderson (West Carroll HS, Mt. Carroll, Ill.) was the lone Viking in double figures as he led the team with 10 points. Kunz, freshman Danielius Jurgutis (Downers Grove South HS, Darien, Ill.) and junior George Dexter (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) each had nine points. Senior Bryant Voiles (Byron HS, Byron, Ill.) and junior Luke Scarlata (Morton East HS, Berwyn, Ill.) both had eight points. In all, 12 Vikings scored in the game.

Kunz had a team high five steals and pulled down seven rebounds to go with his nine points.

Voiles led the team in rebounding with nine as Augustana enjoyed a huge 44-26 advantage on the glass. After turning the ball over 11 times in the first half, the Vikings only had eight in the second stanza.

Augustana is now 5-0 on the season while Wisconsin Lutheran, which was led by Alex Merbach with 16 points, falls to 1-6.