Basketball Teams Open Promising Seasons

Hayden Audette, sports editor 

The Augsburg mens and womens basketball seasons are officially underway, and both teams started off strong with impressive wins in their opening games. 

The Auggie mens basketball roster has a very different look this season, with several players from last year’s team either graduating or transferring. The first game of the season against North Central was our first chance to see this year’s Auggie mens squad in action. The Auggies started out quite strongly, jumping out to a 21-14 lead in the opening minutes of the contest. The rest of the first half was dominated by the Rams, and they closed out the half on a 17-5 run to take a 31-26 lead at the halftime break. The second half went in a completely different direction from the first. Rather than starting out well and ending the half poorly, the Auggies did the reverse. The five point lead that the Rams held to begin the second half would increase to a 17 point lead, and Augsburg would find themselves in a 58-41 hole with 11 minutes left in the game. After this point, they would begin to chip away at this large deficit until they eventually retook the lead at 68-67 in the final minutes. The Auggies would be able to hold on until the end, earning an impressive 76-74 victory.

Senior guard Burke Nesbit shared that the comeback win on opening night has him feeling very confident about the rest of the season. “While we lack the experience of past teams, we will still always play with grit and a chip on our shoulder, which I think was pretty evident from our first game coming back from down 17,” Nesbit said. 

The following week, it was the womens basketball team’s turn to begin their season with a home game against the Wisconsin-River Falls Falcons. For the first three quarters, the Auggies and Falcons went back and forth, with Augsburg holding advantages of 22-20, 33-30, and 45-43 at the end of each quarter. If the game up to that point was any indication, the final ten minutes of the game would be just as close. Instead, the Auggies shut down the visiting Falcons in the fourth quarter, holding the visitors scoreless for the last eight minutes. This dominant stretch of play helped Augsburg secure a 63-45 win in front of the home fans. Auggie senior forward Jaley Coplin led all scorers with a career-high 24 points, and junior forward Anja Smith and junior guard Kalena Myers added 13 points and 11 points respectively. 

Much like on the men’s side, the Auggie women had several players from last year’s team graduate, but they still have many of their key players from the previous season. Senior forward Nikole Gullerud shared that she feels good about the new season and the chemistry between the players. “Team chemistry always changes a bit each year, but we have a lot of talented returners and the team has been working hard for the last month or so in preparation for the season,” Gullerud said. 

It is too early to tell if both teams will be able to replicate the amount of success that they had last season. However, if they continue to close out games as effectively as they did in their season openers, we will definitely be in for another exciting year of Augsburg basketball.