- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Augustana University celebrated its men’s NCAA Division II basketball championship Tuesday as dozens of fans gathered at the school in Sioux Falls.

Family members, students and even politicians were among those who heard from the players, coach Tom Billeter and university President Rob Oliver while the trophy was on display at the Elmen Center arena.

“They were there through the thick and thin. They’ve been there with me and this team since my freshman year here and I’m glad they get to enjoy this national championship just as much as we do,” said senior Alex Richter, of Lakeville, Minnesota.

The Vikings beat Lincoln Memorial of Tennessee 90-81 on Saturday in Frisco, Texas, to win the NCAA Division II championship.

“People in Frisco were amazed. They were amazed by our level of support and the noise,” Oliver told the crowd. “People in Frisco were saying, ‘Where are you guys from? Sioux Falls? Is that a big place? South Dakota? Augustana? How big is Augustana?’ We told them ‘You know, 1,850 students.’ They’d say ‘Are you all here?’”

Augustana finished the season with 15 straight wins and a program-record 34 wins. The team lost only two games all year.

Billeter told the dozens of people who gathered at the arena that he is grateful for all the players who “dedicated themselves to each other” and worked toward the championship.

Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether and U.S. Sen. John Thune were among those gathered at the arena.

It is the third national team title in school history. Augustana won the Division II women’s cross country championship in 2011 and the softball title in 1991.

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