2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
PELLA — Mustering just six points in the final 7 minutes, the Central College men’s basketball team saw Wartburg College escape with a 76-70 Iowa Conference decision Saturday.
Guard Kevin Kaerwer (junior, El Paso, Texas, John L. Chapin HS) scored on a driving layup and assisted on another to put the Dutch up 68-64 with 3:09 left, but Wartburg (12-8 overall, 7-3 conference) answered with a 12-2 run to close out the game.
“Kevin Kaerwer made some big plays down the stretch to get us the lead,” coach Craig Douma said. “I thought we’d turned the corner.”
But then the Dutch shooting touch deserted them. After shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, Central hit just 34.5 percent in the second half and 42.6 percent for the game. The Dutch were 2-of-10 in the final 7:30.
“The last 2-3 minutes, we had shots but couldn’t knock them down,” Douma said. “We’ve got to learn how to finish and get our confidence back.”
Forward Jacob Winkler (senior, Lancaster, Mo., Schuyler R-1 HS) had another big night with 21 points and nine rebounds.
“Jake played well on both ends of the floor,” Douma said. “That probably was his best defensive game of the year. I was proud of the way he played and I was proud of the guys’ effort. They hung in there. But somehow we’ve got to get over the hump.”
Forward Matt Greenfield (junior, Huxley, Ballard HS) notched his fourth double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 boards. Guard KJ Cool (senior, Chillicothe, Mo., Newtown Harris R-3 HS) added eight points and four assists. Kaerwer and forward Nick Marinkovich (senior, Clarendon Hills, Ill., Hinsdale Central HS) also had eight points each.
Douma also cited senior forward Andy Waugh (Earlham) who gave the Dutch a lift in the first half, scoring six points with five rebounds in 10 minutes of action.
“Andy really gave us some energy off the bench in the first half and got some offensive boards,” he said.
Central will try to regroup on the road, traveling to Decorah to meet Luther College Wednesday night in a women’s-men’s doubleheader. The men’s contest tips off at 8 p.m. Luther is 15-6 overall and 8-2 in the league after outlasting Simpson College 93-86 in overtime Saturday at Indianola. The Norse were 75-66 winners over Central at Pella Jan. 12.