2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
PELLA—The Central College men’s basketball team led by as much as 10 points, but went cold from the field in the second half and committed 21 turnovers in a 78-68 loss to Cornell College Tuesday night.
The Rams (2-1 overall) scored the opening basket in the second half for their first lead since the 17-minute mark of the first half, led by as much as 13 points and finished the game on a 20-10 run over the final 11 minutes.
The Dutch (2-1 overall) finished the game 22-of-54 from the field (40.7 percent), but saw their shooting percentage drop from 46.4 percent in the first half (13-of-28) to 34.6 percent in the second (9-of-26) and shot 5-of-21 from behind the 3-point arc (23.8 percent). The 21 Dutch turnovers led to 27 Cornell points and equal the team’s combined total in its first two games this season.
“It was a frustrating game,” coach Craig Douma said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight and we turned the ball over a lot. Cornell did some good things defensively, but we missed a lot of point-blank shots. That’s inexcusable. We didn’t play very tough tonight and we were careless with the ball.
“We need to learn from this and get ready for our next game.”
Forward Matt Greenfield (senior, Huxley, Ballard HS) posted his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He also chipped in four assists, three blocks and one steal in a game-high 38 minutes. Guard Kevin Kaerwer (senior, El Paso, Texas, John L. Chapin HS) led the team with 14 points, while guard Fred Pratt (senior, Rosenberg, Texas, Lamar Consolidated HS) came off the bench to score 11.
Cornell played tough defensively, holding three Dutch starters to a combined eight points on 3-of-12 shooting.
“We need better performances all the way around," Douma said. “We need to step up and play tougher. It’s an ongoing battle for this team and it’s going to be a process, but we need to get there sooner rather than later.”
The Dutch built a double-digit lead with 7:50 remaining in the first half, but were outscored 20-11 in the final eight minutes and led by only one (37-36) at the half. Central regained the lead only once more—a two-point advantage—with 11:59 remaining in the game before Cornell hit its run.
“Cornell hit some tough shots, especially down the stretch,” said Douma. “Their guards hit gutsy, contested shots. Those are the shots we want our opponents to take and they made them tonight. We allowed too many second-chance opportunities, as well. Cornell controlled the flow of the game and we were never in rhythm.”
Statistically it was a fairly even game from the free throw line and on the boards. Cornell held a slight edge in both categories, converting on 20-of-27 free throws to Central’s 19-of-26 and pulling down four more rebounds (36-32).
But the Dutch struggled offensively from distance and from close range, misfiring on 13 shots inside the paint.
“We missed on a lot of good looks,” Douma said. “Some of our shots were tough, but we had some good looks and we just didn’t make shots. We’re a better shooting team than what we showed tonight.”
Central breaks for the holiday, but returns to action Friday in the Dordt College/Holiday Inn Express Classic at Sioux Center, Iowa. The Dutch open the classic against Northwestern (Iowa) (5-4 overall) Friday at 6 p.m. The two teams last played Nov. 23, 2002 at Orange City, a 105-79 victory for the Red Raiders.
Central closes the classic against host Dordt (7-1 overall) Saturday at 4 p.m.