1993 NCAA Div. III champions
PELLA—Guard Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, Pella) erupted for a career-high 29 points but it was guard Courtney Kelderman (senior, Pella) who delivered the stunner, a game-winning 3-pointer with 3 seconds remaining, as the Central College women’s basketball team scrapped its way back from 17 points down to surprise Luther College 76-75 Wednesday night in the Iowa Conference opener for both squads.
It was Central’s only lead of the half after trailing 38-21 late in the first period and 38-26 at the break. The Dutch (9-3 overall, 1-0 conference) were still down 75-68 following a Luther bucket with 1:48 remaining, but finished the game with an 8-0 flurry. Vander Molen knocked down a three and added two free throws to pull within 75-73 with 1:16 left. Then guard Katie Sunderman (sophomore, Pella) snagged an errant Luther pass at the 1-minute mark and suddenly Central was in position to tie. Twice the Dutch had good looks in the paint, and twice they misfired, but twice they outmuscled Luther for the rebound. The last was by center Bry Pierce (junior, St. Clair, Mo.), who fired to Kelderman in the corner and she swished her fifth 3-pointer of the night. Luther (9-3 overall, 0-1 conference) could only manage a desperation half-court shot at the buzzer.
“Bry did a great job of getting the offensive rebound and kicking it out,” coach Chelsea Petersen said. “Courtney Kelderman had been hot and had a wide-open shot.”
Central somehow overcame a scoring drought of nearly 8 minutes in the first half which appeared would be decisive. The Dutch took a 21-19 lead on a 3-point bucket by Kelderman with 8:45 left in the first half. But Luther reeled off 19 unanswered points to gain a 38-21 advantage before Central was able to find the basket again, with the Dutch going 0-for-13 from the floor in that span.
“Our team did a fantastic job of sticking to the game plan,” Petersen said. “One thing I know about this team is at the end of every game they’ll still be fighting.”
Kelderman hit 5-of-6 3-point tries and finished with 15 points. Vander Molen was also dialed in from long range, hitting 5-of-7 and going 9-of-16 from the field overall. She topped her previous career-best by 10 points and also dished out five assists with three steals.
“Kenzie Vander Molen had a phenomenal game,” Petersen said. “I challenged her at halftime to be more assertive and come out and attack. She came out and attacked when she needed to, pulled it out when she needed to and she distributed the ball well. She also had a great assist-to-turnover ratio of 5-2.”
Guard Emily Neff (freshman, Cedar Falls) added 14 points and five rebounds while playing a full 40 minutes and forward Jessy Stika (senior, Cresco, Crestwood HS) scored 10 with a team-high seven rebounds. The undersized Dutch claimed a 39-30 advantage on the boards.
“Everyone played their role,” Petersen said.
Central shot 41.7 percent from the floor but hit a sizzling 57.1 percent from 3-point range. Luther shot 47.1 percent from the field and knocked down 26 of 31 free throws to Central’s 14 of 19.
Central rallied despite losing two starters to fouls. The Dutch were also without one of their top newcomers, guard Kaitlin Stump (sophomore, Lancaster, Mo., Schuyler R-1 HS), who was injured in the team’s previous outing in Puerto Rico. She will be sidelined indefinitely.
“This team has an incredible will to win,” Petersen said. “They work hard in practice and they compete all the time.”
Central is home again Saturday for a women’s-men’s league twinbill with Dubuque. The Spartans are 8-5 overall and 1-0 in the league after tripping Wartburg 61-59 Wednesday night. The Spartans swept Central in two meetings last year. Game time is 2 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. A video webcast and live stats will be available at www.central.edu/athletics and the games will be broadcast by KRLS-FM (92.1). The broadcast can also be accessed through www.kniakrls.com.