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Vikings Snap Three-Game Skid Behind Ashley’s 27 Points

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SIOUX FALLS, SD — Augustana snapped its three-game skid in style on Saturday,  erupting on offense in a 96-68 victory over Southwest Minnesota State at the Elmen Center in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play.

The Vikings’ record improved to 11-7 (7-7 NSIC).  The Mustangs fell to 3-15 (1-13 NSIC) with the loss.

Augustana was led by Shaunteva Ashley, who poured in a career-high 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting (61.1 percent).  The Sioux Falls, S.D. native also handed out five assists, grabbed five rebounds, while recording zero turnovers in her 32 minutes of play.  Ashley continues to be a scoring machine as of late, putting up at least 22 points now in five of her last eight games.

Rhianna Gullickson picked up her third double-double of the season for Augustana with 18 points and 10 rebounds.  The junior continued her great shooting season, going 7 for 11 (63.6 percent) in the victory.

The Vikings’ defense was very active in the passing lanes, tying a season high with 17 steals.  Augustana’s ability to get into the passing lanes triggered the running game, which registered a season-high 33 fastbreak points in the win.

Mikayla Saathoff led Southwest Minnesota State with 18 points and six rebounds.  Alison Nagel contributed with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Augustana had a good night shooting, going 34 of 72 (47.2 percent), its third-best outing this season.  The Vikings also were able to hold SMSU to 40.7 percent on the evening.

The Vikings jumped out to a fast start – especially Ashley – against the Mustangs using some tough defense, while attacking the paint early.  Augustana went into the first media timeout leading 17-11.  Ashley came out aggressive and on fire, scoring nine points during the stretch on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting.

Southwest Minnesota State used a quick 6-0 run in 50 seconds coming out of the media timeout to get within two points at 17-15.

Some great ball movement and a good entry pass from Sophie Kenney to Katie Meister resulted in a made turnaround jumper for the Vikings, giving them their first double-digit lead of the afternoon at 31-21 with 9:09 remaining.  For Meister, it was part of her five first-half points.

Augustana would maintain its double-digit lead for the rest of the first half, going into halftime up 46-36.  The Vikings’ high-scoring half was a result of their ability to get into the passing lane, resulting in nine first half steals and 18 fastbreak points.

Augustana’s 46 points in the first half was the most points surrendered in a half by Southwest Minnesota State this season.

Saathoff’s ability to get to the basket was a big reason SMSU was able to hang around in the first half.  The sophomore finished the first half with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting (62.5 percent).

The Vikings showed great ball security and movement in the first half, dishing out 10 assists while only having two turnovers.

Both teams battled evenly to start the second half, with Augustana leading 53-46 with 14:32 remaining in the contest.

Gullickson made her presence known on the boards, grabbing five rebounds in the first five minutes of the second half.

A Meister jumper pushed the Vikings’ lead back into double digits at 57-47.  For Meister, it was her seventh point, her highest scoring outburst in the past eight games.

A perfectly executed pick-and-roll play from Kenney to Gullickson put Augustana up 62-52 at the 11:15 mark.  It was Kenney’s fourth assist of the game, and the beginning of a 12-4 Vikings’ run that put the game out of reach for the Mustangs.

Ashley would cap off her big night by hitting a three late in the second half, giving her new career high in points, and giving Augustana its largest lead of the game at 85-56 with just a little over four minutes remaining in the contest.  It was the fifth time in the last eight games that the junior has scored at least 22 points in a game.

The Vikings would close out the game after that, winning 96-68, ending the three-game losing streak.

Augustana looks to build on its big win, taking to the road to face Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.  The Vikings will close out the trip against St. Cloud State on Saturday.

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Courtesy:  Augustana College

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