2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
PELLA—Luther College grabbed a narrow lead late in the first half and made it stand up for a 68-64 victory over the Central College men’s basketball team Saturday. The Norse never trailed in the second half. Central used a 5-0 run to tie it at 59-59 with 2:39 left but Luther’s Zac Ruckebeil scored on a putback to regain the advantage.
Luther (7-15 overall, 4-10 Iowa Conference) was able to withstand a 23-point effort by Dutch guard Miguel Ley (junior, San Antonio, Texas, Judson HS). Ley also had a game-high five assists.
Central (12-11 overall, 6-8 conference) had one of its better shooting efforts in recent outings, hitting 48.1 percent from the field and committed just nine turnovers. Luther held a 32-31 edge on the boards. Forward James Chapline (sophomore, Ogden) had 13 points and forward Loren Liming (junior, Ames, Gilbert HS) had 10 points and five rebounds. Center Zach Cooper (junior, Johnston) had nine rebounds and three blocks.
“We had our opportunities,” said coach Mike Boschee. “When it’s a grind-it-out game like this, it’s going to go down to the wire and we couldn’t get key stops down the stretch when we really needed them. And we missed a few easy shots that we didn’t recover from.”
The Dutch were without starting forward Mark Holan (junior, Fontanelle, Nodaway Valley HS), who was injured in Central’s win at Simpson College Wednesday night. His status for next week is uncertain.
“We missed his defensive energy and toughness,” Boschee said.
Cooper has 44 blocks for the year, just 10 behind Jeff Verhoef’s 1978-79 school season record. Meanwhile Ley has 987 points for his career as he bids to become the 25th member of Central’s 1,000-point club.
Central heads to Mount Vernon Wednesday for a women’s-men’s league doubleheader with Cornell College. The Rams stopped Central 62-49 at Pella Jan. 3. Cornell is 18-6 overall and 11-4 in conference play after routing Wartburg College Saturday at Waverly, 70-46. Central still needs one more win to be assured of an Iowa Conference tournament berth.