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Central women's basketball squad rocks Crown, 104-41

Women's basketball | Jan. 7, 2012

PELLA — Rolling up its highest point total in 11 years, the Central College women’s basketball team rocked Crown College (Minn.) 104-41 Saturday.

Freshman Bry Pierce (St. Clair, Mo.) erupted for a career-high 18 points with five rebounds in just 14 minutes of action off the bench. Forward Nicole Strasko (junior, Roland, Roland-Story HS) had 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting with six rebounds, forward Jessy Stika (sophomore, Cresco, Crestwood HS) added a pair of  career bests with 13 points and eight rebounds and sophomore Hilary Beaird (sophomore, Burlington) also had personal highs with 10 points and nine boards.

“Bry (Pierce) and Jessy (Stika) were huge sparks,” coach Mike Jacobsma said. “That’s what we’ve been looking for out of the forward and post positions—someone to step up and score from the low block.”

Pierce, a 6-foot center, was a highly regarded recruit but suffered an injury in the preseason and didn’t see her first action until after Christmas.

“Every day she’s improving,” Jacobsma said. “She still needs to understand the level of intensity at the college level and, within our system, about ball pressure and switching screens. She isn’t used to that kind of environment.”

Jacobsma saw plenty of other strong contributions.

“Hilary Beaird’s high-low game was very positive,” he said. “And Kelsey Schuring (senior, Pella) was very consistent. That’s two games in a row where she’s stepped it up offensively.”

Central improved to 5-8, matching last year’s season wins total in its first campaign with Jacobsma.

Central bolted to a 55-18 halftime lead and shot 51.1 percent for the game to 31.3 percent for Crown (1-6), leading by as many as 67 points. Central was dominant on the glass, holding a 58-20 advantage, just one board shy of the school mark. The Dutch had 33 offensive rebounds.

The last time Central cracked the century mark was in a 119-82 romp at William Penn Jan. 23, 2001.

“Our mentality coming into the game was that we were down 10 points and we had that same mentality to start the second half,” Jacobsma said. “We wanted to bring pressure, get in the passing lanes and force turnovers. This team plays so much better when we have that mindset.”

Central returns to Iowa Conference action for the rest of the season, starting with a women’s-men’s home doubleheader with Loras College Wednesday. The women’s game starts at 6 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium, with the men’s game at 8 p.m. Live stats and a video webstream will be available through www.central.edu/athletics.

Loras was knocked off at home by Cornell College Saturday, 75-61. The Duhawks are 7-6 overall and 2-2 in the league. They swept a pair of games from Central by double-digit margins last year.

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Central College