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2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
DUBUQUE—Overtime appeared to be a certainty as Central College guard Justin Madsen (senior, Fort Dodge, St. Edmond HS) tracked down the pass that had slipped away beyond the top of the key and the final seconds ticked away.
With the score tied, Iowa Conference leader Central’s designed play had fallen apart, and Madsen did the only thing he could do before the buzzer sounded: Turn and drill a 23-foot 3-pointer for a big 76-73 men’s basketball road victory at the Univ. of Dubuque.
That was enough to keep the Dutch alone in first at 10-2 and improve to 17-4 overall. It also clinched Central’s fourth straight appearance in the six-team conference tournament.
Forward Loren Liming (senior, Ames, Gilbert) posted his second straight double-double, and his eighth of the season, with 23 points and 14 rebounds, while guard Miguel Ley (senior, San Antonio, Texas, Judson HS) had 19 points and six assists without a turnover.
Liming’s free throw with 33 seconds left had given Central a 71-66 lead, but Dubuque guard Taylor Blum carried the Spartans back, draining a deep 3. A Dutch turnover was followed by a tying Dubuque layup to make it 71-71. Madsen hit two clutch free throws with 17 seconds remaining but Blum answered with two of his own and it was 73-73 with 8.6 seconds remaining, leaving Central with a final shot.
“The play was designed for Miguel (Ley) to attack the basket,” coach Mike Boschee said. “But it seemed like all five guys converged on him so he tried to hit Justin (Madsen) at the top of the key.”
The ball got away from Madsen but he maintained his poise well enough to retrieve it in time to knock down the gamewinner.
“It’s a great win,” Boschee said. “In this league, any team can beat you and if you can get a win on the road against anybody, you feel good. We’re just happy to get out with a victory.”
Central burst out of the gate, jumping to a 23-7 lead with 7:48 left in the first half. But Dubuque (13-7 overall, 6-5 conference) cut the margin to 34-27 at halftime, then took a couple of brief leads, going up 53-50 with 11:06 left. Central responded with a 10-0 run capped by a Brock Caves (sophomore, Douds, Van Buren HS) layup for a 60-53 advantage with 6:54 remaining, but the game was tight the rest of the way.
“Things came really easy for us early, but then we lost a little of our intensity and focus,” Boschee said. “And Dubuque, like good teams do at home, put a good run on us.”
Blum had a game-high 25 points for Dubuque, which shot 44.6 percent to Central’s 42.4 percent. Central held the rebounding edge, 40-34, and committed just nine turnovers.
Ley passed former NFL star Vern Den Herder (1967-71) for fourth place on Central’s career scoring list with 1,440 points. He also moved into second place on Central’s career assists list with 291, topping Zak Clark (2004-08).
Central must make another dangerous road trek Saturday, taking on Luther College at Decorah in a women’s-men’s doubleheader. The women’s game starts at 2 p.m. with the men’s game at 4 p.m. The contest will be broadcast on KRLS-FM (92.1) and can also be heard via the Central athletics Web site at www.central.edu/athletics.
Luther got a road win Wednesday as well, with a 70-67 decision at Simpson to improve to 10-9 overall and 4-7 in the league. Central stopped the Norse at Pella Jan. 16, 75-61.