1993 NCAA Div. III champions
WAVERLY—The last time the Central College women’s basketball team won at Wartburg College, Dutch forward AJ Baker (sophomore, Grinnell) hadn’t even been born yet.
But Baker was around this time, knocking down a late go-ahead 3-pointer as the injury-riddled Dutch ended 22 years of frustration. They scored the game’s final nine points for a come-from-behind 72-67 Iowa Conference win over Wartburg Saturday. It was Central’s first victory in Waverly since Jan. 27, 1987, snapping a 23-game skid.
Central, which trailed 40-33 at halftime, tied the game twice early in the second half but was still down 63-57 with 4:33 remaining. Wartburg went up 67-63 on a basket with 2:17 left, but was held scoreless the rest of the way. Central tied it at 67-67 with a Kelsey Schuring (sophomore, Pella) bucket with 1:33 left, then with 38 seconds remaining, Baker drilled the decisive 3-pointer. Baker and guard Jordan Waddell (junior, Guthrie Center) padded the margin with free throws in the final 12 seconds.
Guard Ashley Gerst (senior, Columbus Junction, Wapello HS) had 17 points while forward Haley Brillhart (sophomore, Pella) posted a double-double with15 points and 11 rebounds in only 18 minutes of action. Baker had a career-high 13 points and Waddell had nine points with a game-high six assists and five steals.
“AJ Baker really played well for us,” coach Jerry Nikkel said. “Ashley Gerst was huge today and a lot of other kids were solid. Kelsey Schuring had a good game, Katie McKim (junior, Creston) gave us some good minutes off the bench and I thought Jordan Waddell played well. She hit a couple of big shots.”
The Dutch came away with the win despite adding to an already lengthy injury list. Brillhart went down with 1:10 remaining while jumping for a defensive rebound and forward Alyssa Schwartz (freshman, Titonka, WCLT HS) saw only limited action because of injury. Central was already without the team’s leading scorer, guard/forward Sarah Paulson (sophomore, Ottumwa), and center Andrea Clark (junior, Guthrie Center). Nikkel is hopeful that Brillhart and Paulson can return before Christmas, although that’s not certain, with Clark potentially back sometime in January.
“We’ve got an iron-man crew,” Nikkel said. “They just keep plugging away.”
Central outshot Wartburg (1-4 overall, 0-1 conference) from the field, 43.5 percent to 34.7 percent but was outrebounded 52-42. The Dutch committed 22 turnovers to Wartburg’s 16.
Central is back on the road Wednesday for its final pre-Christmas league doubleheader, traveling to Storm Lake to take on Buena Vista Univ. The women’s game tips at 6 p.m. with the men’s game at 8 p.m. Buena Vista is 6-2 overall and 2-0 in league play after a 69-68 road win at Loras College Saturday.
“I’m anxious to get some people healthy and see what we can do,” Nikkel said.