2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
MOUNT VERNON—Handing Cornell College its first Iowa Conference defeat, the Central College men’s basketball team hung on for a 60-54 victory and climbed to the top of the league standings.
Central, 12-3 overall, is now 5-1 in conference play while Cornell slipped to 4-1 and is 10-4 overall. Buena Vista is also 4-1 in the league.
The win came with a little unwanted drama. A Loren Liming (senior, Ames, Gilbert HS) bucket gave Central a seemingly comfortable 55-44 advantage with 2:37 remaining. But the Dutch committed three turnovers and missed 4 of 6 free throws as Cornell cut the lead to 57-54 with 15 seconds left. But Central then sank three of its final four free throws to secure the win.
Liming notched his fifth double-double with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Miguel Ley (senior, San Antonio, Texas, Judson HS) had 17 points and six assists. Center Zach Cooper (senior, Johnston) had 11 rebounds as Central held a 39-31 edge on the glass. The Dutch outshot Cornell 45.1 percent to 36.2 percent.
Central was only 11-of-20 from the free throw line (55.0 percent) and 3-of-15 from 3-point range (20.0 percent).
Ley is in sixth place on Central’s career scoring list with 1,335 points as he moved past Harold De Bie (1961-65). He’s also in sixth in career assists with 261, three behind Chris Robertson (1989-92).
While Cornell was in striking distance throughout the night, Central never trailed. Cornell tied it at 15-15 with 6:35 left in the first half before the Dutch went on a 9-2 burst and it was 26-17 Central with just over a minute remaining in the period. But Central had trouble closing out the first half as well as a 3-pointer at the buzzer made it 26-22 at the break.
Central returns home Saturday for a women’s-men’s league twinbill, tackling Luther College. The women’s contest starts at 4 p.m. in P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium with the men’s game at 6 p.m. Both contests will be broadcast on KRLS-FM (92.1). A video Webcast along with the broadcast and live stats can be accessed at www.central.edu/athletics. Luther is 7-6 overall and 1-4 in the league after suffering a 72-60 home-court loss to Dubuque Wednesday night.