2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
PELLA — It was an all too familiar storyline during a brutal four-game, eight-day stretch for the Central College men’s basketball team. And a ragged first half and inconsistent outside shooting led to a fourth straight defeat Saturday, 56-53 to the University of Dubuque.
Just seven days earlier the Dutch were thumped at Dubuque 72-54, snapping an 11-game Central win streak. The Spartans (12-5 overall, 7-2 Iowa Conference) looked like they were headed to another lopsided victory in the first half Saturday, jumping to a 9-1 lead and going up by as many as 14 points before settling for a 30-18 halftime advantage.
But Central (12-5 overall, 5-4 conference) turned up the defensive intensity, scoring 12 of the first 14 points in the second half to tie it 32-32. The Dutch grabbed a short-lived 40-39 lead on a Kevin Kaerwer (sophomore, El Paso, Texas, John L. Chapin HS) 3-pointer with 11:40 left. However, it was Central’s only lead of the game, although the Dutch threatened the rest of the way. A 3-point try by guard Demarco Turner (senior, Des Moines, East HS) bounced off the rim with 3 seconds left to finally settle the issue.
“This is about the third game in a row where we got off to a really poor start,” coach Mike Boschee said. “We played a good second half but you’ve got to play 40 minutes. We need everyone playing at a high level and we’re just not getting that right now.”
Center Jack Bruns (senior, Story City, Roland-Story HS) had 14 points and five rebounds while Turner had 12 points and two steals. Forward Jacob Winkler (junior, Lancaster, Mo., Schuyler R-1 HS) had seven rebounds.
The Dutch shot just 30.4 percent from the floor in the first half and 38.8 percent for the game, including 28.6 percent from 3-point range. Dubuque shot 38.9 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from beyond the arc.
“We’ve got to be a team that’s not going to let a bad game on offense affect our defense,” Boschee said. “If we’re going to dig our way out of this, it will take playing with toughness, heart and desire. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”
Central outrebounded Dubuque 35-35 and blocked five shots.
Boschee liked his team’s second-half effort.
“Our defense got better and our rebounding got better,” he said. “We just weren’t getting good results on offense.”
The Dutch have a brief, but welcome, 3-day break before heading to Cedar Rapids Wednesday to tackle Coe College in a women’s-men’s doubleheader. The women’s game tips off at 6 p.m. and the men’s game is at 8 p.m. Coe, which escaped at Loras Saturday, 69-67, is 12-6 overall and 6-3 in the league. Central rolled to a 65-44 victory over the Kohawks Dec. 7 in Pella.