2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
DECORAH—Center Jacob Winkler (senior, Lancaster, Mo., Schuyler R-1 HS) poured in a career-high 34 points but the Central College men’s basketball team tumbled in overtime, 72-66, to Luther College in Iowa Conference action Wednesday.
The Dutch saw a 15-point lead disappear in the second half as Luther slowly chipped away a steamy 57.7 percent shooting performance, draining 7-of -9 buckets from long range. Central held its lead until the three-minute mark when the Norse knocked down a 3-pointer and capitalized on a Dutch foul with two shots from the charity stripe, taking a 55-52 lead. Central was down two with 17 seconds left when Winkler hit a jumper to force overtime.
Another Winkler bucket put the Dutch up 60-59 in extra minutes before Luther surged with an unanswered seven-point run. Central cut the margin to one, but another 3-pointer and two free throws sealed the Norse win. The Dutch hit just 4-of-11 shots in the final five minutes.
“We missed our opportunities,” coach Craig Douma said. “Luther converted early and got a run and we closed the gap, but we missed shots.”
Winkler knocked down 16-of-23 shots and grabbed four rebounds.
“You can’t say enough about Winkler’s play tonight,” Douma said. “Luther didn’t have an answer for him and our players did a good job of finding him. He carried us tonight.”
Guards Nick Marinkovich (senior, Clarendon Hills, Ill., Hinsdale Central HS) and forward Matt Greenfield (junior, Huxley, Ballard HS) had nine points apiece. Greenfield also collected nine boards.
Luther had four players in double-digits and got 19 rebounds from center Tyler Wedemeier. The Norse finished with 41.7 percent shooting while Central shot 40.6 percent, hitting only 16.7 percent from downtown. Luther held a 42-38 rebound margin and registered five blocks.
“We beat ourselves again,” Douma said. “We should have taken care of that lead. We need to put two halves together and get our confidence back to know we can win close games.”
Central faces the University of Dubuque Saturday in a 4 p.m. contest at Dubuque. The Dutch were 61-58 winners over the Spartans at Pella Jan. 16. Dubuque is 16-6 overall and 6-5 in the conference after a 73-58 victory against Buena Vista Wednesday.
The game, along with the women’s matchup at 2 p.m., will be broadcast on KRLS-FM (92.1) and can be heard online at www.kniakrls.com or accessed through www.central.edu/athletics. Cory Houser will have the call.