CRAWFORDSVILLE, Indiana -- A late rally came up short for the Heidelberg University men's basketball team in its season opener. No. 2 Augustana College proved to be too much for the Berg, pulling away with a 73-64. victory.
Sophomore Alex Arellano scored a career-high 17 points, including 3 of 5 from deep.
Forcing eight turnovers in the first ten minutes, the Berg kept Augustana close early on. Trailing 8-3, Arellano hurled a long pass to Michael Davis, cutting the deficit to three points.
With 11:50 before the break, Jimmy Hanley knotted the game, hitting a three off a pass from Bennie.
Hanley's three sparked the Viking offense, who went on a 9-0 run that spanned just over six minutes.
The Student Prince defense held tough, forcing the Vikings into a shot clock violation with 6:41 remaining in the half. Bennie followed on the other end, briefly halting the Augustana momentum with a jumper in the paint.
Foul trouble and cold shooting hurt the Berg in the first half. HU shot just 18% from the floor in the period. Arellano drained a three from the top of the arc to cut the deficit to 15, but the Vikings responded immediately. Heidelberg trailed at the break, 36-18.
A pull-up jumper by Davis cut the Augustana lead to 45-30 with 15 minutes remaining. After a Viking bucket at the other end, Arellano sank another 3-pointer from the wing.
Bennie's triple from the wing pulled the Berg to within 12 with under five minutes remaining. After the Vikings made a layup at the other end, junior Prince Benson hit a 3-pointer of his own from the same spot as Bennie. HU trailed 64-53 with four minutes to play.
A late rally was just what Heidelberg needed. Bennie, a senior, hit a layup to cut the score to 67-58. It was the first time the Student Princes trailed by single digits since the first half.
Bennie drew a charge against the Vikings and sank both free throws. Heidelberg trailed 67-60 with 1:17 on the clock. Augustana would not allow the Berg to come any closer, making their free throws down the stretch.
Heidelberg was outrebounded, 34-17, despite HU holding the edge in offensive boards (17-9).
Head coach Andy Bucheit on the game: "We showed a lot of toughness in the second half cutting an 18 point deficit to 7 against a very good team, but we need to show more poise in stretches where we face adversity … But this group has come in and shown a commitment to working everyday no matter who we are facing."
Augustana, the 2017 National Runner-Up, never trailed in the contest. The Vikings' Chrishawn Orange led all scorers with 21 points.
This is just the second time in the Andy Bucheit era that the Tricolor has dropped its opening contest.
The Berg returns home on Saturday afternoon for a 12 p.m. tipoff. Heidelberg opens its home slate against No. 12 North Central College.