Vikings Thunderstruck at Wheaton

Nick Gainey

The Augustana men’s basketball team traveled to King Arena on March 9 to face the Wheaton Thunder in a CCIW tournament semifinal. The Thunder entered the game ranked #3 in the d3hoops.com national poll and the #1 seed in the tournament, while the Vikings came in as the #4 seed, coming off a 109-107 triple overtime win over Carthage in the first round of the tournament. However, the Vikings’ run ended with a 78-58 loss to the Thunder.
 
Neither team could gain a significant advantage for the first 7 minutes, but two three-pointers by Wheaton’s Luke Anthony gave the Thunder a 15-9 lead with 12:04 remaining in the first half.
 
Augustana responded by going on an 8-0 run. Justin Bottorff made two baskets, while Matt Hanushewsky hit a jump shot to make it 15-all. Viking big man Daniel Carr added a layup to give the Vikings a 17-15 lead.
 
After both teams traded free throws, Wheaton went on a 12-0 run, giving them a 28-18 lead they would never relinquish. Eli Considine led the Thunder’s flurry with two 3-pointers. 
 
Augustana cut the deficit to four with a 6-0 run of their own. Wheaton scored the game’s next four points before Carter Duwa’s three with 35 seconds remaining in the half. Nyameye Adom’s post jumper in the closing seconds gave Wheaton a 34-27 halftime advantage.
 
Augie opened the second half strong, with Carr hitting a three to cut the Wheaton lead to four. But Tyson Cruickshank answered with two quick threes of his own, and the Thunder took over from there. Nate Ortiz gave the Vikings some life with a trey at the 13:26 mark of the half, but Anthony answered with one of his own to start a 14-2 Wheaton run. 
 
The Thunder lead stayed stagnant for the next six minutes before a Duwa fastbreak jumper cut it to 18 with 2:23 to play. Cade Alioth’s offensive rebound and subsequent layup put the Thunder lead back up to 20, which would end up being the final margin.
 
Duwa and Bottorff led the Vikings in scoring with 17 apiece, with Bottorff also adding eight rebounds and three steals. Carr was the only other Augustana player to reach double figures, putting in 13 points and nine rebounds. Alioth led the Thunder with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Adom put in 20 points and six assists. Wheaton advances to the CCIW tournament final with a 12-0 record, while Augustana closes coach Steve Schafer’s first season with a 7-5 mark.