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February 9, 2013

North Central comes back to defeat Vikings

Sophomore guard Mark Roth came off the bench for 13 points Saturday, but the Vikings dropped a 76-62 decision to 11th-ranked North Central at Carver Center.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - 11th-ranked North Central shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and erased a 13-point halftime deficit, defeating Augustana 76-62 Saturday night at Carver Center. The Cardinals improve to 20-3 overall and 9-3 in the CCIW, while the Vikings fall to 16-7 on the year and 6-6 in the league.

The contest was a defensive struggle for the first 10 minutes. A Mark Roth (Washington HS, Washington, Ill.) jumper at the 10:17 mark of the first half put Augustana up 13-12 and started a 26-9 Vikings run which saw the hosts stretch the advantage to 37-21 with 1:24 to go before halftime. 12 of those 26 points came from sophomore guard Danielius Jurgutis (Downers Grove South HS, Darien, Ill.) on a pair of two's, two three's and two free throws. Sophomore big man Nic Hoepfner (United Township HS, East Moline, Ill.) scored six straight as well during the run.  

A three-pointer from the left wing by North Central's Jack Merrithey with 39 seconds left cut Augustana's lead to 37-24 at the half.  

The Cardinals' Vince Kmiec connected on three three-pointers in the first two and a half minutes of the second half to cut the deficit under double digits. The Vikings went back up by 12 when Jurgutis was fouled on a three-point attempt with 17:02 to play. After hitting his first two freebies to push the lead back to 10, he missed the third, but senior Brandon Kunz (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, Ill.) grabbed the rebound and laid it in to put Augustana up 45-33.  

From there, it was all North Central, as the visitors outscored the Vikings 43-17 over the final 16 minutes. The first of two Jack Burchett free throws with 7:30 remaining got the Cardinals even at 53-53 and the second gave North Central its first lead since 12-11.  

After shooting .389 from the floor and committing 12 turnovers in the opening twenty minutes, the Cardinals shot .600 in the second half and coughed it up just twice. They also visited the free throw line 24 times in the second stanza, converting 18 to finish 24 of 34 for the game.  

Augustana, which honored Kunz and George Dexter (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) on Senior Night, finished the night 22 of 45 (.489) from the field, five of 11 (.455) from three-point range and 13 of 17 (.765) from the free throw line. The Vikings turned it over 18 times and won the battle of the boards by a 27-25 margin.  

Jurgutis finished with 18 points and Roth joined him in double digits with 13 off the bench. Aaron Tiknis, with 21 and Merrithey with 15, led five Cardinals in double figures.  

The Vikings are in action next at Elmhurst on Saturday, February 16. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.