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December 17, 2010

2010-11 Season - Runge's late free throws clinch win over Knox

Natalie Runge scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, both team highs, to lead the Vikings to a 75-73 win over Knox. Augustana has now won four straight home games and will be looking for a road win tomorrow against Cornell.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – A late rally helped the Augustana women’s basketball team improve to 4-1 at home in the Roy J. Carver Center as the Vikings edged Knox 75-73 on Friday, December 17 in Rock Island, Illinois. After leading during most of the first half, the Blue & Gold trailed for much of the final 20 minutes, but took the lead with 10 seconds to play and pulled out the narrow victory.

The game was close the entire way with Augustana holding onto a narrow advantage for much of the opening half. After a couple of early ties, a three point field goal from senior Alyssa Neitzel (Providence Catholic HS, Shorewood, Ill.) put the Vikings in front 7-4 at the 17:22 mark. The Viking long range attack struck again midway through the first half with freshman Molly Etheridge (Normal Community HS, Bloomington, Ill.) and sophomore Gianna Pecora (Downers Grove South HS, Downers Grove, Ill.) nailing consecutive three pointers to extend the lead to 17-10.

The lead stayed between three and six points until a jumper from junior Elizabeth Phillips (Grayslake North HS, Lake Villa, Ill.) opened the advantage to eight (26-18) at the 5:05 mark. Knox was able to close the gap to 30-26 at intermission, tallying the final three points of the half.

Augustana maintained its advantage in the opening couple minutes of the second half, but a Prairie Fire three point field goal knotted the game at 34-34 with 16:58 to play. The visitors pulled in front by four, but sophomore Kristin Warnken (Centaurus HS, Erie, Colo.) knocked down a shot from beyond the arc and junior Brianna Skeens (Vernon Hills HS, Vernon Hills, Ill.) converted a pair of free throws to give the Blue & Gold a slim 39-38 edge at the 14:37 mark.

Although Knox enjoyed a small lead for much of the second half, Augustana did earn a one point advantage on two different occasions. Senior Kristen Fox (Ottawa HS, Ottawa, Ill.) drilled a three point shot to make it 51-50 at the 9:36 mark and junior Natalie Runge (St. Dominic HS, O’Fallon, Mo.) dropped in a jumper to put the Blue & Gold in front 53-52 with just over nine minutes remaining.

From that point on, Augustana trailed by as many as seven points and never led until the final seconds of the game. Runge was fouled with 10 seconds remaining and rattled in a pair of charity tosses to account for the final margin after Knox missed at the buzzer.

Etheridge started the run that saw the Vikings rally from a 68-61 deficit in the final four minutes. She scored on a jumper and converted the three point play with a made free throw as the gap closed to 68-64 with 3:54 remaining. Fox came through again with another three point bucket, trimming the Prairie Fire lead to 68-67 just 40 seconds later.

There were three more ties, the last one at 73-73 after a made free throw from Warnken at the 1:11 mark, before Runge’s winning shots. Phillips and Fox also knocked down key baskets in the final minutes; each tying the game after Knox had pulled out in front by two on both occasions.

Runge (16) and Fox (15) combined for 31 points to lead Augustana. Warnken was also in double figures with 10 points off the bench. Etheridge added nine points and Phillips chipped in eight of her own. Runge also led the Vikings on the glass with eight rebounds, although Knox finished with a 40-34 advantage on the boards. Etheridge had six assists and no turnovers, while Skeens picked up three steals.

Augustana has a quick turnaround with an afternoon game at Cornell on Saturday, December 18. The Vikings improve to 4-6 overall with the victory over Knox, but are still looking for a victory away from the Carver Center.

Story written by Assistant Sports Information Director Adam Strand