Augustana Athletics

Augustana (SD) wins first-ever Division II national title

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Back on November 7, No. 2 Augustana (South Dakota) knocked off Iowa 76-74 in an exhibition game, as Daniel Jansen capped a comeback from a 15-point deficit with a fadeaway over Adam Woodbury as time expired. Three-plus months later, Jansen and his teammates won the school’s first-ever national title with a 90-81 victory over No. 1 Lincoln Memorial (Tennessee) University in the Division II title game in Frisco, Texas.

Jansen, who won NABC Division II National Player of the Year and had been struggling with a left foot injury in the tournament, was one of three 20-point scorers for the Vikings as he finished with 25 points and nine rebounds. Fellow senior Alex Richter scored a game-high 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field, and senior forward Casey Schilling scored 20 points and fell one rebound short of a 20-point, 20-rebound effort.

Gerel Simmons led Lincoln Memorial (34-3), which was also looking for its first-ever NCAA Division II title in any sport, with 21 points but the Railsplitters were unable to rebound from a slow start to the game. Augustana (34-2) scored 15 of the game’s first 21 points, with Richter tallying ten.

The game marked the first time since 1975 (Old Dominion and New Orleans) in which the top two teams in the NABC Division II poll met in the final, and it was also a matchup of the two highest-scoring teams in Division II. It was Augustana’s advantage at the foul line that decided the game, as they shot 21-for-27 from the charity stripe with LMU making just nine of their 18 attempts. Jansen by himself outscored LMU from the foul line, as he shot 11-for-12 on the day.

Johnson C. Smith beats Winston Salem State in completion of suspended game

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In one of the stranger occurrences of the 2013-14 college basketball season, Wednesday’s game between Winston-Salem State and Johnson C. Smith was declared a draw due to a broken light fixture above the court. How’d the fixture break? Johnson C. Smith’s Joshua Linton attempted a full-court heave with the game being tied, and his attempt hit the fixture.

Due to safety concerns the game was called for the time being, with administrators concerned that the fixture could come crashing down on the court at any time. With that issue addressed the two teams completed the game Friday afternoon, with Johnson C. Smith getting the 89-86 win in overtime according to Greg Shaheen.

The result drops Winston Salem State two games behind Livingstone in the CIAA South standings, with Johnson C. Smith moving to 4-5 in CIAA South play.

Former Washington guard Hikeem Stewart lands at Kentucky Wesleyan

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Through five games this season guard Hikeem Stewart didn’t see much playing time at Washington, playing a total of 22 minutes with five of his six shot attempts and all five points scored coming in one game (a win over Eastern Washington). With the trio of Andrew Andrews, C.J. Wilcox and Nigel Williams-Goss in line to receive the majority of the backcourt minutes Stewart announced his decision to transfer in late November.

On Thursday it was learned that Stewart will finish his playing career at Division II Kentucky Wesleyan, with the school announcing his arrival via press release. Stewart will practice with the team for the remainder of this season with an eye towards being a key contributor at both guard positions in 2014-15.

“We are fortunate to add a quality student-athlete like Hikeem to our team,” Kentucky Wesleyan head coach Happy Osborne said. “He does a lot of things very well due to his versatility and athletic ability at both ends of the court.

“Hikeem will play both the point and shooting guard positions. He passes the ball with precision and scores from anywhere. His defensive abilities create tremendous havoc for the opponent.”

Outside of the Andrews/Wilcox/Williams-Goss trio the only Washington guard currently averaging double digit minutes is freshman Darin Johnson, who’s played just over 18 minutes per game and is scoring 7.2 points per contest. 11-7 overall, the Huskies will look to move to 4-2 in Pac-12 play Saturday when they visit Stanford.


Division II Metro State upsets Elon and Canisius in consecutive days

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How good is Metro State?

In consecutive days the Division II program located in Denver defeated Elon, one of the favorites in the Southern Conference, and on Tuesday the Roadrunners knocked off Canisius, a contender in the MAAC this year.

Metro State is the top-ranked team in Division II, ending last season with a heartbreaking 74-73 loss to Drury in the national championship game. Earlier NIT Season Tip-Off, the Roadrunners took Rhode Island to the wire, and also defeated Fairleigh Dickinson.

Mitch McCarron, the Brisbane, Australia native, has been the standout in both upsets this week. On Monday, the 6-foot-3 sophomore guard dropped 29 points and nine boards in the Roadrunners’ 75-74 win over the Phoenix. He followed on Tuesday with 28 points and six rebounds agains the Golden Griffins in a 14-point win.

In the first two games of the NIT Season Tip-Off, played in at the University of Arizona, McCarron posted back-to-back double-doubles. He went for 19 points and 12 boards in a 66-63 loss to URI. The next night he erupted for a career-high 34 points to go along with 10 boards in an 11-point win over Fairleigh Dickinson. In four games against Division I opponents this season, McCarron is averaging 27.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Metro State is the first D2 team to win multiple games at the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Drury, Amherst win Division II and Division III titles in Atlanta

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While the NCAA used the 75th Final Four stage to honor some of the top players and teams in the history of the event, the governing body did something else that had never been done.

The NCAA scheduled both the Division II and Division III title games to be played at Phillips Arena on Sunday, marking the first time that those games have been played in the same city as the Division I Final Four.

In the first game of the day Amherst (29-2) won its first Division III title since 2007 with an 87-70 victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor (27-5). Allen Williamson led four Amherst players in double figures with 18 points, and Division III Player of the Year Aaron Toomey capped his season with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists.

While the Division III title game lacked suspense the Division II title game more than made up for it, as Drury (30-4) survived a frantic final sequence to knock off Metro State 74-73. Two Alex Hall (21 points) free throws with 22.8 seconds remaining proved to be the difference for Drury, which led the game for a grand total of 68 seconds.

Drury shot 54.2% from the field and made 11 three-pointers, outscoring Metro State (32-2) 33-15 from beyond the arc. That disparity allowed Drury to hang around in a game they trailed by as many as 17 points, and Metro State missing the front end of two 1-and-1 situations led to Hall’s game-winning free throws.

The question now is whether or not this format is something the NCAA will use in future years, and there are certainly those who are in favor of the setup.

However there’s scheduling to be considered, especially in regards to the Division III tournament. After playing the quarterfinals and semifinals in Salem, Va. on March 22 and 23, Amherst and Mary Hardin-Baylor had to wait two weeks to play one game.

“We’re not ‘scholarship kids.’  I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but it’s not a job.  Our kids do other things,” Amherst head coach David Hixon remarked following his team’s victory. “So they need to rethink how they’re going to redo the year.”

Hixon made sure to note just how special the experience was for his players, because it isn’t as if they receive a police escort to the arena (and be honored during the Division I semifinals) on a regular basis.

The wait wasn’t as long for Drury and Metro State as the Division II quarters and semis were played last weekend in Louisville, and overall the feedback was positive in regards to the new idea.

But the scheduling of the Division II and III tournaments is something the NCAA will need to look at if they’re to do this in North Texas next spring.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.