Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Men’s basketball heads to NCAA Division III Final Four

Coming off three intense games, the men’s basketball team defeated the Hanover College Panthers 77-64 on Saturday to advance to the Final Four for the second time in three years.
The Vikings were carrying some strong momentum from Friday’s game against Wartburg, where they won 80-69.
Senior Jacob Johnston, who led the Vikings with 19 points, said the team was ready for the game.
“It [the game] was a lot of fun,” Johnston said. “We knew who ever was more energized was going to win the game. So, we came out ready.”
While the Vikings held the lead since almost the start of the game, the Panthers would go on strong spurts to reel the Vikings back in. One such moment was with eight minutes left in the game when the Panthers went on a 8-2 run to bring the score within six points.
Head coach Grey Giovanine said the team did a great job of keeping their composure.
“I don’t think there was much worry because the team has been in a lot of close situations,” Giovanine said.
One area that hurt the Vikings was fouls. Sophomore Crishawn Orange and freshman Micah Martin found themselves in foul trouble as they both earned four fouls in the second period. The team also got into foul trouble early in the first half as they earned seven fouls in the first ten minutes.
Giovanine said it’s the Vikings depth that allowed the team to keep the offense rolling without some of the key members.
Sevens and nines were the lucky numbers for the Vikings in the first half as they broke out to a seven-point lead in about seven minutes. The Vikings were in danger of losing the lead after a surge from the Panthers brought the score within two and with 12 minutes left in the first.
But from that point, the Vikings continued to outscore the Panthers to end the half 40-33.
The second half was where the Vikings offense clicked as they earned their 14-point lead, the largest of the night.
Johnston said it was their defense that gave them more offensive opportunities.
“We focused primarily on our defense, which helped us get better looks on offense,” Johnston said.
The Vikings will play Williams College this Friday for a spot in the Division III Men’s Basketball National Championship game.
Giovanine said the team is excited to be heading to Salem for a chance at the championships.
“To be going to the Final Four is just a thrill,” Giovanine said. “We couldn’t be more excited.”
Giovanine also said Vikings have come far from the beginning of the season where they testing out an essentially new team after losing one of the best teams in Augustana history.
“If you look at us from the start of the season till now, we’ve become a really good team,” Giovanine said. “I give a lot of credit to the experienced players who have guided the new guys to what is expected of our team.”

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Men’s basketball heads to NCAA Division III Final Four