1993 NCAA Div. III champions
STORM LAKE—Surging back from a 16-point deficit, the Central College women’s basketball team snapped a nine-game Iowa Conference road losing streak by surprising Buena Vista Saturday 82-78.
It’s Central’s first victory in Storm Lake since Nov. 21, 2000 and improved the rapidly improving club to 6-8 overall and 2-3 in league play. The Dutch won by hitting six straight free throws in the final 33 seconds and knocked down 20-of-23 (87.0 percent) for the game.
“The kids played hard,” coach Jerry Nikkel said. “They had to overcome a little adversity but they played right through it. I’m really proud of them.”
Freshman forward Haley Brillhart (Pella) scored 10 points in her collegiate debut and was one of five Central players to crack double figures. She joined the squad late because of volleyball and then had to deal with an injury.
“Haley did a nice job off the bench,” coach Jerry Nikkel said. “She’s really quick and was all over the place for us. She’s a great addition.”
Guard Ashley Gerst (junior, Columbus Junction, Wapello HS) and forward Emily De Jong (senior, Ankeny) each had 15 points while guard Laura Porter (senior, Monroe, PCM HS) had 13 and center Andrea Clark (sophomore, Guthrie Center) came back from an injury in Wednesday’s loss at Wartburg College to score 10 points. Clark and De Jong each had eight rebounds while Porter and guard Jordan Waddell (sophomore, Guthrie Center) passed out four assists.
Buena Vista (9-4 overall, 2-2 conference) was up by as much as 37-21 in the first half. But Central finished the half with a 12-3 run that made it 40-33 at intermission.
“We switched up defenses late in the first half,” Nikkel said. “They were getting too many good looks.”
The Dutch used an 8-0 burst to pull within 47-46 with 16:09 left, then grabbed their first lead of the game with 6:56 left when Brillhart converted a jumper and a free throw for a 3-point play and a 60-58 advantage. Buena Vista briefly regained the lead with just over 4 minutes left. But a De Jong jumper with 1:24 to play gave Central the lead for good at 76-74.
“We really ran well in the second half and put some pressure on them,” Nikkel said. “In the first half they’d been putting pressure on us. But we played a lot better defense in the halfcourt and got our running game going.
“It is so tough to win on the road in this league. This was a wonderful win and the kids worked so hard in practice to make it happen. They’re having a lot of fun.”
Central is off until next Saturday when the Dutch return home to square off against Coe College in a women’s-men’s doubleheader, tipping off at 4 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. The Kohawks are 7-6 overall and 1-3 in the league after suffering a 66-62 homecourt defeat against Wartburg College Saturday.