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Men’s basketball: Aurora University drops home opener

AurorUniversity's Kyle Plimer goes up for layup during Thursday's game against AugustanCollege. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Medi

Aurora University's Kyle Plimer goes up for a layup during Thursday's game against Augustana College. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 15, 2012 10:32PM

Style points aren’t handed out at Aurora University, and there is no such thing as a moral victory.

“We don’t recruit anybody to Aurora for moral victories,” AU head basketball coach James Lancaster said. “We recruit them to play in big games like this and in front of big crowds like this.”

Nothing was bigger than Thursday night’s home opener against Augustana College, and the Spartans gave the big crowd a show before falling 85-82.

If there is such a thing as a good loss, this was it.

AU fell behind by 21 points (55-34) after coming out flat in the second half and Augustana (1-0) went on 12-3 run. The Spartans were close to being blown out of Thornton Gym.

It never happened.

AU, fueled by a pair of Jordan Hester steals, turned into a championship-caliber basketball team and used a blistering 16-2 run of its own to pull within two points (66-64) on a pair of free throws by Marious Lobdell.

“I was real proud of them,” Lancaster said. “When they got out to the 21-point lead, I was a little unsure of how things were going to turn out. Then some guys got defensive stops. We had our opportunities.”

The Spartans also had some outstanding individual efforts.

Lobdell tied for game-high scoring honors with 29 points. He nailed three three-point jump shots in the closing five minutes to keep the Spartans within striking distance.

Hester (14 points) came up with the key steals and dished out eight assists, Scott Laskowski added 10 points, and Lancaster also received strong play off the bench from both Kyle Pilmer (8 points) and Mark Adams (3 key rebounds).

There is no doubt the Spartans put a scare into the Vikings who needed every one of guard Danielius Jurgutis’s 29 points on a sparkling 11-of-14 shooting to survive.

In fact, the Vikings survived only after Lobdell’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer hit the back of the rim and bounced harmlessly away.

“It was a tough test for us. He (Augustana coach Grey Giovanine) played a lot of young guys and we have a lot of new guys,” Lancaster said. “I’m glad it turned into a ball game.”

But never, ever, a moral victory.

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