Strasko nails down Central women’s basketball win
PELLA— Forward Nicole Strasko (senior, Roland, Roland-Story HS) knocked down two free throws with 12 seconds remaining to rescue the Central College women’s basketball team in a 68-66 victory over AIB Wednesday night.
The Dutch (4-3), who trailed by as many as eight points in the first half, led much of the second half but found themselves down 66-63 with 2:38 left. A Kalli Richardson (sophomore, Blairsburg, Northeast Hamilton HS) jumper with 2:08 remaining made it 66-65. Guard Rachel Evans (sophomore, Fort Dodge) later gave the Dutch a chance with a steal with 22 seconds left. Following a time-out, Central got the ball to Strasko in the post, where she drew a foul and then put the Dutch on top with two free throws.
“Nicole made a great move and got to the free throw line,” coach Mike Jacobsma said. “She’s been our go-to player so far.”
AIB’s final shot was off target and guard Alyssa Schwartz (senior, Titonka, WCLT HS) corralled the rebound. She was fouled and sealed the win with another free throw with just a second remaining.
Schwartz finished with a team-high 17 points while Strasko had 16 points with eight rebounds. Forward Jessy Stika (junior,Cresco, Crestwood HS) had 14 points and seven boards while Richardson had 13 points and a game-high six assists.
Still, Jacobsma was far from satisfied. The Dutch only 37.7 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent in the first half, and committed 18 turnovers. They outrebounded AIB 41-26. AIB (1-7) shot 44.9 percent from the floor and drained 16 of 18 free throws.
Especially distressing was an all too familiar early deficit. AIB jumped to a 12-4 lead in the opening four minutes. Central missed five of its first six shots.
“We have to do something to change how we start the game,” Jacobsma said. “Whether it’s our pre-game warm-up or pre-game talk, we have to do something to create some excitement to start a college basketball game.”
The Dutch were a bit slow defensively in the early going as well.
“We lost a couple of their shooters,” Jacobsma said.
Jacobsma cited a second-half burst as crucial. Down 50-46 with 11:49 remaining, the Dutch scored eight unanswered points.
“We had a run in the middle of the second half that was key to us getting up and just getting some confidence,” he said. “In the second half we also crashed the boards better, got some second chances and got to the free throw line.”
Jacobsma is certain his club is capable of better.
“We’ve just got to start playing like we practice,” he said.
The Dutch are home again Saturday, taking on Bethany Lutheran (Minn.) in a 3 p.m. game, which is part of a women’s-men’s doubleheader.The Vikings take a 1-4 record into a Thursday night home game against Coe College.
Saturday’s games will be broadcast by KRLS-FM (92.1), with a video webcast and live stats available through the Central athletics website at www.central.edu/athletics.