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NORTH CENTRAL 69, AUGIE 58

ROCK ISLAND — A great comeback in the fourth quarter gave the Augustana women’s basketball team a spring in its collective step that had been missing for much of the game.

But just as quickly as the Vikings crawled back into Wednesday’s CCIW game against North Central, they were right back out of it.

After tying the score at 58 on Jeni Crain’s layup with 4:12 left in regulation, the Vikings missed their final nine shots of the contest and watched as the upstart Cardinals scored the final 11 points to pull off the 69-58 upset.

“It was an effort thing,” said Augie coach Mark Beinborn of his 4-4, 1-1 CCIW team. “I just didn’t feel a consistent energy and playing hard and playing together that we often have. I don’t know why. It’s something we definitely have to figure out.”

The Vikings should have been able to use their experience against a team that plays three juniors and the rest freshmen and sophomores, but it didn’t play out that way. The Vikings were a step slow on defense most of the night and looked out of sort offensively as they shot 35.7 percent (20-of-56) from the field.

“They have a young and exciting group and I was worried about them coming into this game,” said Beinborn. “They have a very young and talented core and are playing with absolutely nothing to lose. I knew the game could go this way.”

The Vikings, who trailed by double-digits well into the third quarter, scored the final seven points of that frame to pull within 46-45. Izzy Anderson opened the fourth with a bucket and Mia Lambert drilled a 3 that gave the Vikings a 50-46 lead.

“It felt like we finally had some energy going,” said Beinborn. “We were excited and then it disappeared pretty quickly and it happened on the defensive end, giving up two 3s and then turning it over. We were just careless at times.”

Then the air deflated out of the tires quickly, as Beinborn said.

Augie was still leading 54-48 then NCC drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to forge a tie at 54.

“When they started to come back, we weathered the storm and then hit some timely shots when we needed to,” said NCC coach Maggie McCloskey-Bax after her club moved to 2-4, 1-1 CCIW. “Especially on the road. Anytime you’re playing on the road in the CCIW, it’s always tough. To come out with a real good team, we were able to stay strong.”

The teams then tied each other at 56 and 58 before the Vikings hit heir closing slump and watched the clock dwindle on what could have been a 2-0 start to league play.

Alexis Jones led Augie with 17 points and Anderson added 12 for the Vikings, who were slowed by 16 turnovers and out-rebounded 45-39.

“We’re going to be upset and then tomorrow move forward and get back to work,” said Beinborn.