BLOOMINGTON -- Even in defeat, Augustana men's basketball coach Grey Giovanine remained upbeat.|
"We're disappointed that we didn't win, but we're encouraged by a terrific effort on the road," Giovanine said after the Vikings' 63-60 CCIW loss to Illinois Wesleyan on Wednesday at the Shirk Center. "It was a great effort by a young team."
Augie had two chances to tie the game at the end of regulation, but Griffin Pils and Mark Roth each missed 3-pointers on the final possession.
"Mark got a good look and hits the back rim," Giovanine said.
Trailing 58-44 with 7:10 left in the second half, the Vikings (12-2, 2-1 CCIW) made their run. Using a full-court press against the double-digit deficit, Augie forced three turnovers and held the Titans scoreless the next five minutes.
Brandon Kunz's bucket with 2:54 left in regulation capped Augie's 14-0 run, tying the game at 58. After that, Illinois Wesleyan (11-3, 3-0) scored five of the game's final seven points to get the win.
"It would have been easy for our guys to give it away," Giovanine said. "They competed."
Tied 31-all at halftime, the Titans went on a 21-7 run to go ahead 58-44. Giovanine said Illinois Wesleyan used the 3-point shot to separate itself as the Vikings focused on defending the interior.
"That kind of broke the game open," Giovanine said.
Then Augie responded, making a run that tied the game.
"I was encouraged by the cohesiveness and mental toughness to come back," Giovanine said. "You do it on the road, it's encouraging."
Kunz led Augie with 19 points, and Ben Ryan had 10. Playing his first action of the season, freshman Jawan Straughter had five points, two steals and an assist.
"He really sparked us," Giovanine said. "He did a terrific job and gave us a lift."
Augie concludes its three-game road trip on Saturday at top-ranked North Central, which dropped a 64-53 contest at Carthage. Tip-off is 7 p.m.
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