2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
DUBUQUE—Three times, the Central College men’s basketball team and Loras College battled almost to the buzzer. And three times, Loras College prevailed, doing so again Tuesday night 73-65 to sideline the Dutch in the first round of the Iowa Conference tournament.
The third-seeded Duhawks (16-10) advance to meet second-seeded Cornell College Thursday at Mount Vernon.
Loras previously defeated Central in Dubuque 60-56 Jan. 19, then rallied for an 84-79 double-overtime win in Pella Feb. 4.
Central’s season ends despite a 25-point effort from point guard Miguel Ley (junior, San Antonio, Texas, Judson HS) and the first collegiate statistical double-double for forward Loren Liming (junior, Ames, Gilbert HS).
As in the previous two meetings, Central held an early lead, this time going up 10-4. A Ricky Kolze 3-point basket with 4 seconds left put Loras on top 28-25 at halftime. The game remained tight, with Central holding its final lead at 58-57 on a Zach Cooper (junior, Johnston) dunk with 3:54 left. But Loras reeled off eight unanswered points to make it 65-58 with just 54 seconds left and the Duhawks remained in command from there.
Hot second-half shooting was the difference for Loras. The Duhawks hit 65.0 percent from the field after the break and 54.3 percent for the night. Central shot 46.4 percent and outrebounded Loras 30-26.
Liming had 11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and a block. Ley scored 25 points for the second straight game and topped the 20-point mark for the 10th time this season. Guard Justin Madsen (junior, Fort Dodge, St. Edmond HS) added 10 points.
Ley finished the season with a team-high 17.4-point scoring average and 1,053 points for his career. He climbed four spots into 17th on Central’s career scoring list with a season remaining. Ley is 10th in career steals with 90.
Cooper, who had eight points and seven rebounds, finished the year with 46 blocks, the second-highest total in school history. Liming recorded 37 blocks and forward Mark Holan (junior, Fontanelle, Nodaway Valley HS) had 17 as Central smashed the school season record with 139, eclipsing the old mark of 105 set in 1994-95.
Tuesday’s contest marked the end of Central careers for forwards David Poetting (senior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS) and Greg Levenhagen (senior, Cresco, Crestwood HS).
After Central graduated three starters from last year’s 14-10 club, Poetting and Levenhagen helped lead the Dutch to their second-highest season wins total since 1994-95.