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Dutch women’s basketball team rallies for record start

Women's basketball | Dec. 6, 2013

MANKATO, MINN.—The Central College women’s basketball team rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit and won its program record sixth consecutive game to start the season with a 65-58 win over Bethany Lutheran College (Minn.) Friday night.

The Dutch (6-0 overall) trailed the Vikings (1-5 overall) until the 13:30 mark in the second half when guard Courtney Kelderman (senior, Pella) connected on her third 3-point make en route to 13 points on 4-of-8 from behind the arc. The two teams went back-and-forth until guard Kaitlin Stump (sophomore, Lancaster, Mo., Schuyler R-1) put Central on top for good on a layup with 5:46 remaining in the game. She finished with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.

“Bethany Lutheran had a ton of energy early on and we were flat,” coach Chelsea Petersen said. “They were ready to defend their home court, but we did a tremendous job sticking to the game plan, keeping our composure and responding in key moments.”

The start is one game better than the 5-0 record achieved in 2000-01.

“Central women’s basketball has a very rich tradition,” said Petersen. “There are great teams and a national champion in our history and we represent every player who has ever worn the Red and White.

“This record is a reflection of the support we receive from the entire Central community. It’s a win for the college, the athletics department, the Dutch fans and the Pella community.”

Defense keyed the comeback, as the Dutch blocked six shots and forced 25 turnovers, leading to 23 points in the other direction. Meanwhile, Central tied for its fewest turnovers in a game this season with 13.

“We had great defensive intensity, but we struggled shooting the ball,” Petersen said. “I challenged the team to play to win in the second half and they responded.”

Central shot 46 percent from the field (22-of-48) and 40 percent from 3-point range (6-of-15), which was enough to overcome a 47-percent performance from the free throw line (15-of-32) and the Vikings’ 17 offensive rebounds. It is the lowest amount of free throws made in a game by the Dutch this season.

Guards Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, Pella) and Rachel Evans (junior, Fort Dodge) scored a game-high 14 points apiece. Kelderman and guard Emily Neff (freshman, Cedar Falls) hauled in a team-high five rebounds each. Guard Kalli Richardson (junior, Blairsburg, Northeast Hamilton HS) netted some timely baskets in her first full game back from injury en route to eight points off the bench.

“This team is a unit and we win or lose together,” said Petersen. “And right now things are clicking. Tonight was the ultimate team win.”

The Dutch aim to extend their streak despite a quick turnaround in a 2 p.m. Saturday tip with Martin Luther College (Minn.) (1-4 overall) at New Ulm, Minn. The two teams last played Nov. 20, 2010, an 85-65 Dutch win at Lincoln, Neb. Central has won all three meetings by an average of 18.7 points.

Central College