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December 12, 2009

2009-2010 Season - Vikings defeat Rams 56-51 to improve to 4-4

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Sophomore Natalie Runge (St. Dominic HS, O’Fallon, Mo.) led a balanced scoring attack with 12 points and freshman Kelsey Mikula (Coal City HS, Coal City, Ill.) tallied eight points during the key stretch of the game as the Augustana women’s basketball team held off Cornell down the stretch to earn a 56-51 victory on Saturday, December 12 in Rock Island, Illinois.  The Vikings improve to 4-4 overall with the win.

The two squads traded baskets in the early going, but it was a defensive struggle, with Augustana holding a slim 6-4 lead after a jumper by sophomore Elizabeth Phillips (Grayslake North HS, Lake Villa, Ill.) at the 13:26 mark.  Cornell’s offense then started to heat up as four different Rams scored during an 8-0 spurt in the next few minutes to give the visitors a 12-6 advantage midway through the opening half of action.

Augustana quickly clawed its way back into the game, eventually retaking the lead 16-14 on a jumper by junior Dawn Kernich (Mt. Olive HS, Mt. Olive, Ill.) with under five minutes to play in the period.  Sophomore Abbi Staples (Sterling HS, Sterling, Ill.) also knocked down a three point basket in the 10-2 stretch for the home team. 

Freshman Dori Gills (Holy Family HS, Boulder, Colo.) converted a pair of free throws with six seconds left in the first half to give the Vikings a 22-20 lead heading to intermission.  Augustana held Cornell to 26.7 percent (8-30) shooting from the floor, but only converted 50.0 percent (5-10) of its free throws.

Two made free throws from Cornell’s Charlotte Milas tied the game at 22-22 early in the second half, but a bucket from Runge gave Augustana a lead that it would never relinquish the rest of the way.  Her jumper started an 8-0 run for the Vikings, as the Blue & Gold grabbed a 30-22 advantage.  Runge scored six of the eight points, with freshman Gianna Pecora (Downers Grove South HS, Darien, Ill.) adding a jumper of her own during the scoring spree.

Staples nailed a trifecta from beyond the arc to put the Vikings in front 33-24 at the 12:48 mark, but Cornell did not go away quietly.  The Rams climbed back into the contest, closing within one point of the lead after Brooke Craig connected on a three point basket to cut the deficit to 37-36 with 6:39 to play.

Augustana responded with a 14-4 surge to grab its biggest lead of the day at 51-40 with just 2:39 remaining in the contest.  Mikula scored all eight of her points during the key stretch of the game for the Vikings.  She made a three point shot to extend the lead to 42-36, added a pair of charity tosses to push the advantage to 44-37, and then came right back with another three point field goal to put Augustana in front 47-37.  A Runge jumper and a pair of free throws by freshman Kristin Warnken (Centaurus HS, Erie, Colo.) concluded the Viking charge.

Cornell benefitted from some missed Viking free throws in the final few minutes, but was unable to get closer than five points of the lead as Augustana held on for the home victory.

Although Runge was the lone player to score in double figures for Augustana, Mikula came through with eight points, Warnken added seven, and Staples scored six off the bench.  Pecora, earning her first start of the season, led the Vikings with six rebounds.

The Rams were led by 12 points from Camille Marie-Lidd.  Teresa Cecchetti also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds for the visitors.

Story written by Assistant Sports Information Director Adam Strand