The Augustana women’s basketball team left Sioux Falls on Nov. 20 for the three-game Puerto Rico Classic undefeated and returned home on Nov. 25 with two more wins and its first loss of the season. After its return, the team picked up another win.
Now, the team stands at 7-1 and is No. 1 in the NSIC South for pre-conference play, with its first conference game on Dec. 1 fast approaching.
Head coach Dave Krauth said the trip south was an opportunity for the team to work out some kinks before conference season.
“I think we are developing into a good basketball team, and so I’m looking forward to getting into conference play,” Krauth said.
The team opened the tournament in the U.S. territory with a 77-37 win against University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras (UPR) on Nov. 21 in San Juan. The Vikings gained a sharp 22-point lead over the Jerezanas (translates to Hens) in the first quarter and never looked back. The Vikings also clinched a single-game team record of 63 rebounds but turned the ball over 29 times.
Sophomore guard Izzy Van Veldhuizen led the team in scoring with 15 points. Redshirt freshman guard Vishe’ Rabb and senior center Shelby Selland finished not far behind Van Veldhuizen with 11 points each. Redshirt freshman forward/center Camryn Hay and Selland led the team in rebounds with nine each.
Because Puerto Rican teams play on the international stage, Krauth said the Jerezanas have adopted a European-style of basketball which is more flashy and skill-oriented.
Junior guard/forward Hana Metoxen said the first game was a great way to start off the tournament, but the team had to adjust to the different flavor of basketball.
“[The Jerezanas] were really small and really fast, and they have a different style of play than we’re used to,” Metoxen said. “But, you know, we had to adjust, and it was a good win.”
After their first win, Metoxen said the team took a celebratory trip to the ocean to recover and prepare for their next game on Thanksgiving Day against the University of Central Oklahoma.
On day two of the tournament, the Vikings received their first loss of the season against Central Oklahoma, dropping the game 59-55. The loss ended the team’s five-game win streak.
Assistant coach Katie Bourk said the team missed too many shots and turned over too many possessions.
“It’s just tough to win games when you don’t put the ball in the basket,” Bourk said.
The Vikings and Bronchos were neck and neck the entire game, but the Bronchos claimed the lead near the end with a few last-minute free throws. Overall, the Vikings were 38 percent (23-61) from the field and 11 percent (2-19) beyond the arc. Rabb led the team in scoring with 15 points, and Selland led the team in rebounds with 12.
Selland said the Bronchos played tough, talented ball and that the loss was difficult to accept but was a needed learning opportunity for the team as it heads into conference.
“You could tell that we are a little young and maybe not used to that pressure, so that’s just something that we’re going to have to work through,” Selland said.
After the loss, Metoxen said the team celebrated Thanksgiving at a Denny’s but the restaurant ran out of turkey before the team arrived. She said most of the players settled for diner food instead.
Augustana closed out the tournament with an 81-61 win over UPR Bayamon. As in the game against Rio Piedras, the Vikings scored an early lead but the Vaqueras (translates to Cowgirls) managed a late-game push to close the Viking’s lead to 20 points.
Three Vikings scored in the double digits. Senior guard Lynsey Prosser finished with 13 rebounds and 19 points, shooting 47 percent (8-17) from the field. Junior guard Abby Hora snagged 16 points and dished out four assists.
Metoxen scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds and two steals.
Krauth said the early lead was a bit deceptive.
“It’s kind of human nature when you get a big lead to start watching the clock to see how fast it can run,” Krauth said.
On Tuesday night, the Vikings faced Waldorf University and secured a 96-63 win with four players scoring double-digit points: Hay with 19, Selland with 17, Hora with 16 and Prosser with 10.
Overall, the team shot a solid 49 percent (40-82) from the field and 40 percent (10-25) and racked up 40 rebounds and 20 steals.
The team will face Wayne State in its first conference match at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Sioux Falls Arena.