1993 NCAA Div. III champions
PELLA— Rachel Evans (junior, Fort Dodge) is probably still running.
The scrappy 5-foot-5 guard was relentless, assembling one of the most impressive stat lines in Central College women’s basketball team history as the Dutch (10-12 overall, 2-9 Iowa Conference) ended a month of frustration with a decisive 81-63 triumph over Buena Vista University Wednesday.
Evans was one assist short of becoming the first Central player ever to record a triple-double. She hustled her way to 14 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, a school-record-tying seven steals and a block. Less obvious but equally significant was what she did on the defensive end, limiting Buena Vista’s top scorer, Susan Kies, to two points, more than 15 under her season average.
“Rachel sees the court so well,” coach Chelsea Petersen said. “She face-guarded their leading scorer, she dug into the post and tied them up on several possessions, stepped in and took a charge after playing 34 minutes and got her hands on a lot of balls. She just had incredible focus tonight.”
Point guard Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, Pella) caught fire as well with a game-high 24 points as the Dutch placed four players in double figures in snapping a nine-game losing skid, which included an 83-79 setback at Buena Vista Jan. 25. Vander Molen had just four points at the half.
“She did a great job of coming off screens, getting to the rim, or kicking it out,” Petersen said.
Guard Courtney Kelderman (senior, Pella) knocked down 5-of-10 3-pointers and scored 17 points with four assists and forward Jessy Stika (senior, Cresco, Crestwood HS) added 12 points and five boards.
Central shot 50.8 percent from the field to Buena Vista’s 36.4 percent, but was outrebounded 38-33.
The Dutch streaked to an early 17-4 lead, only to see Buena Vista (10-12 overall, 4-7 conference) answer with a 9-0 run and eventually take a 40-39 advantage into the break.
Down 44-39 with 17:24 left in the game, Central took charge with a 21-2 surge for a 60-46 lead. This time Buena Vista had no answer as the Dutch maintained a double-digit margin the rest of the way.
“In the first half, when they made a run on us, we didn’t do a good job of stopping it,” Petersen said.“The (last) 17 minutes, we attacked, committed to defensive effort, got stops and got the ball in transition.
“This is what happens when all of our starters play well. It just shows what can happen when every player stays within their game.”
With three regular-season games remaining, the victory rekindles hopes of a berth in the six-team league tournament.
“We have some great opportunities,” Petersen said.
But the stretch starts with a tough assignment Saturday at the University of Dubuque. Game time is 2 p.m. for the women’s-men’s twinbill. The Spartans escaped Central 53-52 at Pella Jan. 11, but improved to 14-8 overall and 7-4 in the league by stunning league leader Loras College Wednesday, 57-51. That was the first conference defeat for the Duhawks and clinched a tourney spot for Dubuque.