2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — A swarming defense carried Central College through a late scoring drought as the surging Dutch men’s basketball team notched its sixth straight win, 58-50 at Augsburg College (Minn.).
The Dutch (7-1) limited Augsburg (5-2) to 30.2-percent shooting, including just 28.6 percent in the second half.
Central put the clamps on center Cory Polta, who was averaging a team-high 14.8 points. He was held to five points on 2-of-11 shooting.
“We were pretty locked in defensively,” coach Mike Boschee said. “We did what we needed to do and were able to limit their two leading scorers inside. I was really pleased, not only with our bigs, but with our guards giving support as well.”
Down 8-6 at the 16-minute mark of the first half, Central took control with a 25-6 run to go up 31-12 with 6:42 left and led 35-22 at intermission, shooting 51.9 percent for the half. The Dutch stretched the margin to 42-22 with 18:13 left in the game before their shooting touch deserted them. The mustered just one field goal in the next nine minutes.
But Central kept the defensive pressure on Augsburg, which climbed to within six points in the final minute but no closer. Guards Nick Marinkovich (junior, Clarendon Hills, Ill., Hinsdale Central HS), Brock Caves (senior, Douds, Van Buren HS) and Demarco Turner (senior, Des Moines, East HS) combined to hit six straight free throws in the final 30 seconds to secure the victory.
“We had a really good first half,” Boschee said. “We really played good basketball and we had a good start to the second half. Augsburg’s a good basketball team and we knew they were going to make a run. But we handled it down the stretch and made enough free throws to win.”
Central shot 42.6 percent for the game but Augsburg held the rebounding advantage, 40-38 and the Dutch committed 15 turnovers to Augsburg’s 10.
“Augsburg gambled a little in the second half and got some steals,” Boschee said. “They’ve got really good talent. They made a few plays and the crowd started getting into it. All those things are a good experience for our guys to have to deal with. I’m really pleased with the win.”
Forward Jack Bruns (senior, Story City, Roland-Story HS) had 15 points and seven rebounds.
“Jack played very well offensively,” Boschee said. “He’s still coming. We’ve asked him to do some different things this year. He’s improving his post moves. We need to continue getting him the basketball.”
Turner had 13 points while Caves had 10 with three assists.
Central takes next week off to focus on final exams, then jets to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a pair of games. They’ll have a first-ever meeting with Goucher (Md.) at 3 p.m. (Eastern Time) Sunday, Dec. 18. The Gophers will take a 1-7 record into the contest. At 5 p.m. Dec. 19, Central takes on host Sacred Heart (P.R.).