2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
MOUNT VERNON — Another impressive performance let the Central College men’s basketball team build on its season-opening three-game win streak with a 74-71 victory at Cornell College Tuesday.
The Dutch were up 46-36 at the half and extended their lead to 15 at the beginning of the second half. Central shot 43.8 percent from the field in the first half, but dropped to 39.1 in the second. The Rams (1-1 overall) outshot the Dutch with a 44.4 percentage from the field.
“We let them back in during the second,” said coach Craig Douma. “We weren’t as strong on defense as we would have liked. But it was a great win, overall.”
Central held a 40-34 rebounding advantage and dominated in free throws. Central scored 87.5 percent from the line and Cornell only shot 56 percent. Although the Rams outshot the Dutch, a few key moments, according to Douma, cinched the game.
“I give Cornell credit for how they played at home,” he said. “We executed when we needed to and we knocked down some free throws at a crucial time. That made a huge difference.”
One of Central’s offensive standouts, guard Nick Marinkovich (junior, Clarendon Hills, Ill., Hinsdale Central HS), was the point leader of the night with 23 along with four rebounds.
“Nick had a solid game,” Douma said. “He shot really well for us.”
Forward Matt Greenfield (sophomore, Huxley, Ballard HS), scored 17 points and had eight rebounds for the Dutch. Center Jacob Winkler (senior, Lancaster, Mo., Schuyler R-1 HS) also had 17 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Guard Branden Stubbs (junior, Pleasant Hill, Des Moines Christian HS) followed up with 13 points.
“Matt (Greenfield) nailed a 3-pointer towards the end when it was just a two-point ball game,” said Douma. “That was huge. He gave us the push we needed.”
Central continues play on the road against Eureka (Ill.) Saturday. The game starts at 3 p.m. The Dutch narrowly defeated the Red Devils in 2011, 59-56.
“We need to get better on defense, especially on the road,” Douma said. “It’s going to be a tough game against Eureka. As long as we take care of the ball down the stretch, we can definitely take them on.”