2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
MANKATO, MINN.—A 17-0 run fueled Bethany Lutheran College’s (Minn.) second-half comeback as the Central College men’s basketball team suffered its first loss, 76-70 Wednesday night.
The Dutch saw a 14-point halftime lead melt away their shooting touch went AWOL after intermission. Central (3-1) hit 57.1 percent from the floor in sprinting to a 45-31 halftime lead. But in the second half Central shot just 32.3 percent and was limited to 25 points. Bethany Lutheran (3-2) meanwhile hit 56.3 percent from the floor in the second half after connecting on just 36.1 percent in the first half.
Central was still up 52-37 with just under 16 minutes to play but the Dutch went scoreless over the 6 minutes as Bethany Lutheran stormed to a 54-52 advantage and took the lead for good with 5 minutes left.
Guard Justin Madsen (junior, Fort Dodge, St. Edmond HS) hit a career-best six 3-point baskets for 18 points for the Dutch. Guard Miguel Ley (junior, San Antonio, Texas, Judson HS) had 14 points, six assists and four steals, center Zach Cooper (junior, Des Moines, Johnston HS) had 12 points and forward Loren Liming (junior, Ames, Gilbert HS) had 10 points and nine rebounds. Forward James Chapline (sophomore, Ogden) came off the bench to score six points with 10 boards.
Central was outrebounded 39-38 and committed 16 turnovers to Bethany Lutheran’s 15. Andy Wills had 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals for Bethany Lutheran.
Central opens Iowa Conference play Wednesday with a women’s-men’s doubleheader against Luther College at Decorah. The women’s contest starts at 6 p.m. with the men tipping off at 8 p.m. Luther didn’t open its season until Monday, dropping an 80-59 decision at St. Olaf College (Minn.). But the Norse have three more games before meeting Central, including a Monday night contest with Bethany Lutheran.
Luther has four starters back from last year’s 7-18 team. Center Zac Ruckebeil was the league’s leading rebounder last season with 8.6.
Central, fifth in the conference a year ago, was picked to finish seventh this season in a poll of the league’s coaches.