1993 NCAA Div. III champions
PELLA--Digging deep for one of its strongest efforts of the year, the Central College women's basketball team nearly pulled off a stunner in the season finale Saturday before No. 6 Simpson College escaped with a 70-68 win.
The Dutch led 32-29 at the half before Simpson used a 6-0 run to go up 53-46. Central chipped away and guard Alyssa Schwartz (senior, Titonka, WCLT HS) connected for a three-point play before draining a 3-pointer to tie the score, 55-55, at the 9:13 mark. With just under five minutes left, Simpson silenced the Dutch in a 7-0 burst to lead 69-64 with 1:25 remaining. Two Schwartz free throws and a Nicole Strasko (forward, Roland, Roland-Story HS) layup brought Central within one, but the Storm knocked down a free throw and deterred Central’s last-second play to tie the game.
“Simpson picked up their defense at the end,” coach Mike Jacobsma said. “There’s a reason why they’re ranked sixth. They can go to another level when they want.”
Central placed three in double digits. Schwartz finished with a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds. Guard Rachel Evans (sophomore, Fort Dodge) scored 15 points, all in the first half, and Strasko had 12 points. Evans, Strasko and forward Hilary Beaird (junior, Burlington) registered six rebounds apiece. Guard Kenzie Vander Molen (sophomore, Pella) added six assists.
“We played together as team and everyone was on the same page today,” Jacobsma said. “I’m proud of our players. We had Simpson on the ropes and were fighting until the end.”
The Dutch shot 48 percent from the floor, including 41.7 from long distance. Simpson (23-2 overall, 13-1 conference) hit 40.8 percent and forced 21 Central turnovers. The Dutch dominated the glass with a 40-26 rebounding edge.
“We settled down after the first five minutes and committed to executing and shot the ball well,” Jacobsma said. “We also did a great job rebounding on both ends of the floor, which was another reason why we were in the game.”
Along with Schwartz and Strasko, guard Katie Kepford (senior, Dunlap, Boyer Valley HS) and center Allison Kolker (senior, Lawton, Lawton-Bronson HS) closed out their Central careers. Schwartz’s 109 career 3-pointers rank tied for third in the school record books. Strasko’s 98 games played rank tied for fifth.
“We’re going to miss these four seniors and I feel really fortunate to have been able to coach them for two years,” Jacobsma said.
Central closed the year at 10-15 overall with a 3-11 league mark. Ten wins is the program’s most victories since 2003-04 and three conference wins is the best mark since 2008-09.
“We turned another corner this year,” Jacobsma said. “It’s time to build on those 10 wins and use the momentum of this game as a springboard in the offseason. We want to come back ready to compete in the Iowa Conference every night next year and make the conference tournament.”