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    Augustana Men's Basketball: Vikings postseason run comes to an end in region semifinals

    MANKATO, Minn. – No. 2 seed Winona State shot 55 percent from the field and forced 18 Augustana turnovers in a 77-65 win that knocked the No. 3 seeded Vikings out of the NCAA Central Region Tournament. Winona State (26-7) jumped out to a 22 point lead at the half behind 70 percent shooting and never looked back.

    Augustana finishes the season 22-9, making its 11th NCAA Tournament appearance and its fifth trip to the semifinals of the region tournament. Augustana made its second straight national tournament and its fifth in six years.

    The Vikings are now 9-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.

    Cameron McCaffrey and Leif Nomeland played the final games of their careers for Augustana. McCaffrey finishes as Augustana’s all-time leading scorer with 1,959 career points and was just nine points shy of setting a single season record. McCaffrey scored 649 points this season.

    McCaffrey led the Vikings with 24 points against Winona State, scoring 19 in the first half alone. Alex Richter was the only other Viking in double figures as he finished with 12.

    The Vikings shot 52 percent from the field in the contest making 24 of 46 shots, including 8 of 18 from 3-point range. Yuriy Malashenko added eight points off the bench for Augustana while Casey Schilling finished with eight points and four rebounds.

    Taylor Cameron led Winona State’s offense with 25 points on the night on 9 of 12 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He also hit 4 of 4 from the free throw line. WSU finished the game making 16 of 21 shots from the free throw line while the Vikings were 9 of 12.

    Clayton Vette added 20 points while Grant Johnson finished with 19. Winona State scored 34 points in the paint and 24 points off of Augustana turnovers.

    Augustana’s 19 turnovers tonight, is the most since the Vikings turned the ball over 20 times at Bemidji State on Jan. 11. Since that game, Augustana had not turned the ball over more than 15 times.

    Augustana scored the game’s first basket but Winona State went on a 6-0 run after four Viking turnovers in the first two and a half minutes of the game. Richter cut the WSU lead to 6-5 with a 3-pointer from the left corner with 16:43 remaining in the half.

    Winona State was able to build its lead to eight at 20-12 with 12:18 to play in the first half. Caleb Palkert came off the bench and hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions for the Warriors aiding a 16-7 run.

    Cameron Taylor pushed Winona State’s lead to 12 at 26-14 but Alex Richter answered with one of his own to bring the Vikings within nine at 26-17 before Taylor hit another shot from behind the arc for the Warriors to push the lead back to 12.

    Winona State finished the half on a 22-12 run to take a 51-29 lead into the locker room.

    The Warriors shot 70 percent from the field in the first half on 19 of 27 shooting, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range. Winona State was 8 of 11 from the free throw line and scored 18 points off of 12 Augustana turnovers. The Warriors committed just two turnovers in the first frame.

    The Vikings were 11 of 22 (50 percent) from the field and hit 5 of 11 from 3-point range. Augustana shot only two free throws in the half, making them both.

    McCaffrey was lights out in the first half, finishing with 19 points on 8 of 9 shooting, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range. Richter added eight points in the half while hitting 2 of 3 from 3-point range. Yuriy Malashenko was the only other Viking to score in the half, finishing with two points.

    Augustana opened the second half on an 8-2 run over the first two minutes cutting Winona State’s lead to 16 at 53-37. Winona State answered with a 6-0 run to push its lead back to 22 at 59-37 with 15:20 remaining in the game.

    The 16-point deficit would be as close as Augustana would get until the final minutes of the game.

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