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    SD Mines MBB: Augustana Starts Fast, Rolls to 70-51 Win Over SD Mines

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Playing in the first-ever East vs. West challenge at the Sanford Pentagon, the Augustana men's basketball team made a statement on Friday night, starting strong and cruising to a 71-50 win over South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. Augustana is now 3-1 (0-0 NSIC) on the year, and SDSM&T drops their first game of the year, moving to 2-1 (0-0 RMAC).

    In the win, the Vikings have now had four or more players score in double figures in back-to-back games. Tonight, they also secured the programs first double-double of the year as Michael Schaefer finished the game with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The three others in double figures were A.J. Plitzuweit (15 Pts), Tyler Riemersma (13 Pts) and Dylan LeBrun (11 Pts). The Vikings also controlled the glass, finishing with a +10 rebounding margin, and played solid defense by forcing 18 turnovers and limiting SDSM&T to 19-48 (39%) from the field. 

    Augustana head coach Tom Billeter was impressed by tonight's balance and effort on both ends. "I think we shared the ball well and played unselfish basketball," Billeter said, "also, our defense was good and led to some of those baskets on the offensive end."

    Although Augustana was held scoreless for the first two minutes of the game, the final 38 would prove to be much different. Plitzuweit, a freshman from Vermillion, S.D. was feeling it early on. He scored the Vikings first points on a tough lefty layup, fed Tyler Riemersma in the post for a bucket, and then buried a straightaway triple. Just five minutes in, Plitzuweit had scored 10 of the Vikings first 15 points. 

    But it wasn't just A.J. that was rolling. Following a triple from Matt Cartwright and Dylan LeBrun jumper, Augustana had dropped in 15 straight and opened the game with a 20-6 lead. 

    The key for Augustana early was good ball movement on the offensive end, but also the Vikings defense. Augustana forced multiple turnovers in the first 10 possessions and limited SD Mines 3-16 start.

    Following a timeout, the Vikings offense went right back to work. Jameson Bryan hit a bucket and LeBrun scored off glass plus a foul to make it a 20-0 Vikings run and a 26-6 lead. 

    Although SDSM&T ended the run with a three, the Vikings finished the half strong. Riemersma scored on an and-1, and then six free throws down the stretch pushed the Vikings lead to 23. By halftime, the Vikings had jumped out to a 39-20 lead. Augustana had knocked down 42% of their field goal attempts, compared to just 27% for SD Mines.  One the keys of the first half were the Vikings ability to control the glass in the first half. They out-rebounded SDSM&T 29-11 (+18). It's also the second time this season the Vikings have held an opponent to 20 points in a half.

    The second half started with the Vikings continuing to attack the rack. Cartwright drove and scored off the Window, and it was a 41-20 game. With a Michael Schaefer jumper and a Plitzuweit triple, the Vikings made 6-of-7 shots to start the second half and led 53-27.

    Both teams traded buckets throughout the second half, and the Vikings continued to get contributions up and down their lineup, including Tayton Vincent who nailed corner three for his first points of the season. In all, 10 players scored for the Vikings on Friday night. 

    Back-to-back threes from Dylan LeBrun and Matt Cartwright made it a 70-36 game, and by the games final horn, the Vikings had a 71-50 win. The 19 points are their largest margin of victory this season and biggest since they won by 26 at Bemidji State on Feb. 3rd of 2018.

    In all, the Vikings finished with 10 assists and 25-61 (41%) from the field. 

    The Vikings will now have a quick turn around as they will be back in action on Saturday night in their second and final game of the East vs. West challenge. Augustana will tip-off with Black Hills State at 5:30 p.m at the Pentagon. 

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