2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—The Central College men’s basketball team was consistently in front and outlasted tournament host Sacred Heart (P.R.) 81-72 Sunday afternoon at San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Dutch (7-4 overall) led by nine points at halftime (41-32) and played even in the closing frame (40-40) for the win. Central outrebounded Sacred Heart 49-32, including 20 offensive boards leading to 24 second chance points, and totaled 20 assists to set the pace.
“Sacred Heart is a good team,” coach Craig Douma said. “They’ve played some top-ranked teams tight this season, so it’s a quality win. They are talented and athletic, but we did a great job rebounding the ball, particularly on the offensive end. Second chance points were the difference.”
Forward Matt Greenfield (senior, Huxley, Ballard HS) had a double-double at halftime and finished with 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting and hauled in a career-high 17 rebounds. Frontcourt teammate Colby Taylor (freshman, Creston) made his second career start and connected on 5-of-8 3-pointers en route to a career-high 16 points and grabbed six rebounds.
“Matt played a very active game,” said Douma. “He was inside, outside and all over the glass. He was definitely a leader on the floor today. Colby shot the ball very well. He played a major role in opening up the inside with his outside shot.”
Guard Nile Eckermann (junior, Cosgrove, Clear Creek Amana HS), typically known for his scoring, tallied a career-high seven assists in addition to five points and four rebounds. Center Spencer Bakerink (senior, Creston) scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and snagged six boards.
Central shot 45.7 percent from the field (32-of-70) and netted nine 3-pointers. In total 10 Dutch players scored at least two points, with six players connecting on two field goals apiece.
“It was a good game for us overall,” Douma said. “The scoring was spread out, which was important. We could never completely break away from Sacred Heart, but we were consistently ahead and able to leave here with two wins."
Central breaks for more than one week before opening Iowa Conference action against last season’s conference co-champion Luther College (7-3 overall) Jan. 8 at Pella. Last season the Norse swept the two-game series, including a 72-66 overtime win at Decorah, en route to a share of the league title.