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Pullin' away

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. UND's Carissa Jahner knew that Augustana the surprise team of the North Central Conference stumbled on the road two days earlier, falling at Nebraska-Omaha. The Vikings needed that game to keep pace with the undefeated Sioux.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. UND's Carissa Jahner knew that Augustana the surprise team of the North Central Conference stumbled on the road two days earlier, falling at Nebraska-Omaha. The Vikings needed that game to keep pace with the undefeated Sioux.

Jahner also knew that if UND produced another of its dominating fast starts, Augustana would be in even deeper trouble. UND produced early, and as a result Augustana's NCC title hopes now are in deep, deep trouble.

UND had little trouble with Augustana on Saturday night, breezing past the Vikings 81-62 before 2,402 Sioux Falls Arena fans. The win improved top-ranked UND to 6-0 in the NCC and 23-1 overall, while the Vikings fell to 5-2 and 20-4.

The win also left the first-place Sioux with a two-game cushion in the loss column halfway through the NCC season.

"I don't think there was a lot of pressure on us to win the game," Jahner said. "We wanted to win it, obviously, but it wouldn't have been the end of the world because we still have games left. But we wanted to go after them right away."

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Jahner started the game with a 3-pointer, sparking UND to a 17-5 lead 4 minutes into the game.

UND's start took Augustana and its fans out of the game.

"I thought we played well on both ends of the floor," UND coach Gene Roebuck said. "We hit big shots when we needed them and got big rebounds when we needed them. I didn't expect us to get that big of a jump on them."

But Augustana rebounded with a 12-2 run.

After Kelsey Maffin's basket gave the Sioux a 38-21 advantage, the Vikings cut the deficit to 40-33 at halftime, thanks to Andrea Walsh's play. The Augustana guard finished with 15 points, as did Alison Adamson, the Vikings' leading scorer.

UND opened the second half with a 9-2 run. Danye Guinn scored UND's first five points, with Jahner, who finished with 15 points, accounting for the other four.

"I knew they'd make a run on us at some time, and they did at the end of the first half," Roebuck said. "But give our players credit at the start of the second half. That run got us back into our groove."

UND's groove was to consistently hit the open player for a good look at the basket. A lot of those good looks came after the Sioux post players Kierah Kimbrough and Ashley Langen managed to kick the ball back to the perimeter after facing inside double teams.

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Kimbrough paced the Sioux, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. It was her fifth double double in six NCC games. Langen finished with 11 points, as did Guinn. Langen also had to play through early foul trouble.

The Sioux shot 47 percent, compared to Augustana's 35 percent. And the more physical Sioux owned the boards, outrebounding Augustana 47-30.

After UND's run to start the second half, the closest Augustana came was 11 points.

"We needed to execute a little better and get things done on the offensive end," Augustana coach Dave Krauth said. "And those first couple of minutes in the second half were critical. We have to play very good basketball to beat a team like that. We didn't have that kind of performance in us tonight."

The Sioux did much like they did at Minnesota State-Mankato on Thursday night. The Mankato-Augustana road trip was viewed as UND's biggest challenge of the season, considering Augustana's hot start.

The balanced scoring during the trip is what pleased Roebuck. "Everyone contributed," he said.

UND is at St. Cloud State on Thursday.

"We knew this would be a big weekend," Kimbrough said. "But this takes a little bit of the pressure off of us."

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