Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Augustana men's basketball advances to Elite Eight

Augustana students cheer during the NCAA match on Friday 13. Augustana advanced to the NCAA Division III Elite Eight after their 82-69 win over Mount Union. Photo by Ian Magnuson
Augustana students cheer during the NCAA match on Friday 13. Augustana advanced to the NCAA Division III Elite Eight after their 82-69 win over Mount Union. Photo by Ian Magnuson.

Scoring the first seven points within three minutes of the first half and leading the Vikings with a team high of 26 points on the night,  junior forward Ben Ryan helped his team take a permanent lead, resulting in a 82-69 win over Mount Union in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen round for Augustana men’s basketball.
Throughout the duration of the team’s now 25-4 season, Ryan averaged about 11.8 points per game, but tonight, he and head coach Grey Giovanine credited his success in the paint to mismatches in the post.
“It was just the perimeter players finding me, like coach G said,” said Ryan. “We thought we had a mismatch in the post, so it was just getting me the ball in places where I could be successful.”
With a mismatch in the post, Giovanine said that he was not looking to score in the perimeter, and didn’t feel the need to try for three pointers, at least in the beginning of the first half.
“We had been so successful getting it inside, and then next thing you know we jack up a couple of three’s that were bad,” said Giovanine. “There was no reason to because we could get whatever we wanted going inside.”
Going inside, according to Giovanine, didn’t work all game after Mount Union started taking away the posts’ access for the Vikings.
“Later in the game, we had to kick it out some,” said Giovanine. “They started to double post us later in the first half.”
With 12 points and six rebounds during the first half, Ryan’s early post action proved successful for the Vikings, helping set the tone for the rest of the game.
“It’s great setting the tone, and we wanted to get the ball inside and establish an inside presence, which allowed us to work inside out,” said Ryan. “It’s good to get the ball rolling early, especially tonight.”
Ryan not only scored first in the first half, he also scored the first two points during the second half. His layup increased the score to 40-27, giving Augustana a 13 point lead over Mount Union.
The Vikings were able to keep the lead over the Purple Raiders throughout the entire night, finishing with junior forward Tayvian Johnson running out the clock around the seven second mark to secure the win.
The men now look ahead to their match up against the Marietta Pioneers in the sectional championship tomorrow at the Roy J. Carver P.E Center at 7:00 p.m.
Earlier this evening, Marietta defeated St. Olaf with a score of 79-72, earning a spot in the Elite Eight.
Junior guard and second highest leading scorer of the night with 16 points Hunter Hill said that the team has to embrace a new game plan and quickly, in order to take on Marietta.
“We are just going to focus on our principles because that is what gets you this far,” said Hill. “That’s going to be defending and taking away what they do best, and then obviously rebounding and getting out there in transition.”
Giovanine said that he didn’t know what their game plan would be for tomorrow but would have a better sense later tonight after he looked at some film of the Pioneers in action.
“Tomorrow at noon, we are going to share what we are going to do with our kids, and then we will go on the floor and walk through some things and get ready to go,” said Giovanine. “It’s a short turnaround, but it’s the fifth or sixth time this year we’ve done it, so we’re good at it.”
The Vikings last appearance in the Elite Eight was in 2011. With the win over Mount Union tonight, the team crushed a four year absence and also gained the right “to dance” in the tournament another day.

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Augustana men's basketball advances to Elite Eight