1993 NCAA Div. III champions
MONMOUTH, ILL.—Central College placed six players in double figures and raced to the Monmouth (Ill.) Thanksgiving Tournament women's basketball title with a 98-80 victory over Robert Morris-Springfield (Ill.) Sunday.
Trailing 50-45 at intermission, Central (3-3) erupted for 53 second-half points on 56.7-percent shooting while limiting Robert Morris-Springfield to 30 points. The Eagles (6-2) hit just nine of 44 shots (20.5 percent) from the field in the second half.
“We just moved the ball well,” first-year coach Jerry Nikkel said. “We had a lot of good team play, got a lot of movement and were putting the ball in the basket.”
The Central guard court did much of the damage. Senior Laura Porter (Monroe, PCM HS) had 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals while Ashley Gerst (junior, Columbus Junction, Wapello HS) had 20 points and five assists. Meanwhile guard Jordan Waddell (sophomore, Guthrie Center) came off the bench to knock down four 3-point goals in five attempts, finishing with a career-high 15 points, including 10 in the second half.
“I was real pleased with Ashley (Gerst) and Laura (Porter),” Nikkel said. “Ashley’s driving to the basket well and Laura just makes such intelligent decisions.”
Forward Emily De Jong (senior, Ankeny) had 11 points and eight rebounds and guard Sarah Paulson (freshman, Ottumwa) had 11 points and four boards. Center Andrea Clark (sophomore, Guthrie Center) was the top rebounder with 10 while scoring six points. Central outrebounded the Eagles 55-49.
Nikkel said a key to the win was Central’s second-half defensive effort after Robert Morris-Springfield’s Lindsey Rogers hit five 3-point baskets in the first half.
“We went to a box-and-one (defense) and she didn’t score again,” Nikkel said. “We were able to take them out of what they were trying to do, although their athleticism still got them some buckets in the lane.
“It’s a great win for the kids. They played well.”
It’s Central’s first tournament championship since winning a season-opening tourney at La Crosse, Wis. Nov. 23-24, 2001. Central is coming off a 4-21 season and it’s the first time the Dutch have been at .500 or above after six games since the 2001-02 campaign. Central started last season 0-8.
“This gives the team a real lift,” Nikkel said. “The big thing was winning that first one against the home team (Monmouth) last night. Then coming back on a short turnaround is hard. The kids were tired but they gutted it out. I’m real proud of them. They’ve got a lot of confidence right now.”
Central stays on the road for its seventh straight game Wednesday, opening Iowa Conference play against Luther College at Decorah. The women’s-men’s doubleheader begins at 6 p.m. Luther was 15-10 last year and 12-4 in the league, placing second. The Norse have three starters back but are off to a 0-4 start. Central upset Luther at Pella last year 67-63 but was defeated in the season finale at Decorah 80-65.