NSIC tournament: Minnesota Duluth beats Augustana to reach championship game

Bulldogs to go for fourth straight tournament title on Tuesday

Minnesota Duluth's Taya Hakamaki drives past Augustana's Aby Phipps during an NSIC tournament game on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

Minnesota Duluth will play in the NSIC tournament women's championship game for the fifth consecutive time after the Bulldogs knocked out Augustana 76-59 in Monday's semifinals at the Sanford Pentagon.

The 9th-ranked Bulldogs have only lost once to an NSIC opponent this year, and that was the Vikings back in January in Duluth. The Bulldogs scored just 51 points in that loss, and were determined to make sure something like that didn't happen again in the playoffs.

Almost from the beginning, it was clear it would not. The Bulldogs made six of their first eight attempts from the 3-point line, jumping out to a 30-16 lead they'd never relinquish. The Vikings fought back, closing the first half on an 18-8 run to make it a four-point game at the break, but UMD got hot again. They had the lead back to 20 midway through the third and led by as much as 22 in the fourth. Their hot shooting from outside, coupled with a strong post presence that got them 30 points in the paint and another 16 at the free throw line, was just too much for Augustana.

Augustana's Aislinn Duffy runs a fast break in the first half of Monday's NSIC tournament semifinal, Feb. 27, 2023 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

"I was really impressed with these players today," UMD coach Mandy Pearson said. "Augustana, defensively, is just so good. They make every shot difficult, and I thought our players were moving the ball. Different people were taking open shots and taking what the defense was giving us. That was a big change from the first time we played them."

Brooke Olson led the Bulldogs (26-3) with 25 points while Taya Hakamaki had 14 points and seven rebounds. Ella Gilbertson also added 14 points.


With the win, the reigning conference champions will face MSU-Mankato in the championship game on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Mavericks defeated SMSU 100-82 in the other semifinal on Monday. UMD will be going for their fourth consecutive NSIC tournament title.

Augustana coach Dave Krauth watches his team play against Minnesota Duluth in the NSIC tournament, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

If they play anything like they did against a strong Augustana team, they'll be in good shape.

"We were all super excited - we knew what we needed to do," Hakamaki said. "(Augustana) has some talented players inside and outside. We knew we had to play good post defense and shut down their habits and I think we did a pretty good job with that."

Aislinn Duffy had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Vikings (25-5), who were done in by poor shooting to start the game and again to start the second half. They were 4-of-18 from the floor in the first quarter and 2-for-12 in the third. They were also just 4-of-18 for the game from outside the arc. Jennifer Aadland had 14 points and eight rebounds.

The loss means longtime coach Dave Krauth has coached his last game in Sioux Falls, but his 34-year run is likely not over yet. The Vikings were ranked 5th in the latest regional rankings, so a trip to the Division II NCAA tournament is a strong possibility. The top eight teams in each region are selected. The Division II women's basketball selection show is Sunday at 9:30 p.m.

Matt Zimmer is a Sioux Falls native and longtime sports writer. He graduated from Washington High School where he played football, legion baseball and developed his lifelong love of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, he returned to Sioux Falls, began a long career in amateur baseball and started working as a sports freelancer. Zimmer was hired as a sport reporter at the Argus Leader in 2004, where he covered Sioux Falls high schools and colleges before moving to the South Dakota State University beat in 2014.
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