The women’s basketball team’s historic season ended on a sour note, trounced by the University of Central Missouri in an 81-42 loss in the Central Region Championship game.
The contest looked discouraging for the Vikings, as they fell behind the Central Missouri Jennies early on in the first quarter and struggled to close the gap.
The first half ended with the second-seeded Jennies up 42-17, and the first-seeded Vikings desperate to kick the offense into gear. The box score reveals that never happened, with the Vikings’ final field goal percentage at 24.1 percent, compared to the Jennies’ 48 percent.
Head coach Dave Krauth said the outcome was a perfect storm of poor play on one side and peak performance on the other.
“I don’t have a recollection of us having a game that bad, but it happens,” Krauth said. “And I think Central Missouri played probably what was their best game all year. So when those things happen, you just have to swallow it and move on.”
The Jennies, 2018 champions of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, were nationally-ranked No. 11 in the last regular season Division II Sports Information Director’s Association Poll and seeded No. 2 in the Central Region tournament.
The Vikings’ No. 7 nationally-ranked position and their first-seed in the Central Region tournament makes the defeat all the more surprising, but Krauth said the loss does not take away from the season’s achievements.
“Looking at the season as a whole, it’s one of our very best—if not the best—and just a team that I really enjoyed coaching,” Krauth said. “I’m very proud of what they were able to accomplish, especially the attitude they kept up throughout the whole season.”
The 2017-2018 season was definitely one for the record books. The Vikings’ 29 wins were the most in program history, and the team won the NSIC Tournament championship for the first time ever, in addition to tying with Northern State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead for the regular season NSIC title.
The team graduates five seniors this year: center Paige Peterson, guards Logan and Presley O’Farrell, guard Allie Koehn, and center Naomi Rust.
Coach Krauth said the seniors’ contributions this season and seasons past enabled the program’s success and made coaching a more than worthwhile experience.
“I looked at the teams over the last few years with this group of seniors and recognized what great chemistry they’ve had and how much of a team concept they’ve believed in,” Krauth said. “It made team life even more fun than what people would expect. Because when you compete, you compete everyday, so the season gets long. But this group’s dedication and attitude really made it special.”
Moving forward, Krauth is grateful for the impact the seniors have had on the younger players in the program.
“We have younger players, some who have played a lot and some who haven’t played at all, that I think have gotten a ton from the experienced players,” Krauth said. “They really sold everyone on a team concept.”
Two junior starters return next season, guard Lynsey Prosser and center Shelby Selland.
Krauth, who earned his 600th career win this year in his 29th season at the helm for Augustana, said he is confident the team can stay successful in the future.
“We have some rebuilding to do,” Krauth said. “We definitely have roles to figure out, but I think the talent and attitude is there with this team to win.”