The Augustana women’s basketball team are in the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
On Monday, March 18, the women defeated Emporia State 75-74 in the third game of the NCAA Championships. Senior Alex Feeney hit a pair of clutch free throws with .7 seconds left to seal the game.
“To be honest, it’s a blur,” Feeney said. “I was just pretending like I was in my backyard again in fourth grade, just practicing my free throws.”
Feeney led the team, scoring 24 points, and was also named Most Outstanding Player.
Feeney had help from her supporting senior cast, with Lydia Nelson and Cami Koehn both in double figures for the Vikings.
“Being a senior does play a big role in these types of games,” Nelson said. “I want to work as hard as I can and give everything that I have.”
Besides scoring in double figures for the Vikings, Nelson had a key matchup against Emporia State’s Merissa Quick. She held her to only six points in the first half, and starting out 0-4 from the field.
“I did the best that I could to try and hold her off,” Nelson said. “I did a good job in the first half and let up a little in the second half, but it all worked out.”
Throughout the game, the Vikings and the Hornets went back and forth trading blows at each end of the court. The Vikings eventually pulled away with a 35-20 lead, but that was soon diminished by a 6-2 run from the Hornets, along with 8-8 free throw shooting.
The game leaned in the Hornet’s favor in the second half after two possessions and two free throws, and the Hornets were up 63-60.
When the Vikings were down by one, Koehn converted on a huge turnover, making the easy lay-up to put the Vikings ahead 73-72 with 33 seconds left.
After a questionable call, Quick was sent to the free throw line where she made both attempts.
Then, with seconds left, the ball fell into Feeney’s hands and she was fouled in the paint.
Feeney proceeded to make her first free throw when Emporia State’s head coach called a time out to ice the shooter.
Feeney went back to the line and drained her second shot. On the ensuing inbound pass, Koehn snatched the throw to seal the game for the Vikings.
The Vikings now head down to San Antonio, Texas for the tournament.
“To get him [head coach Dave Krauth] to the first national tournament he’s been in is amazing,” Feeney said. “He really deserves it, and he is the winning-est coach at Augie.”
Nelson echoed Feeney’s thoughts about going to their first ever Elite Eight.
“In the future, when I look back on videos, and when I want to show my kids someday, I will be really proud to say that I was part of this school’s history,” Nelson said. “I think for future reference, it will be pretty amazing to say that I was a part of this.”
The Vikings will take on the current No. 1 ranked team Clayton State (Ga.) at 12 p.m. on March 26, in San Antonio, Texas to keep their championship hopes alive.