Central women stun league basketball favorites

Central College

Central College

PELLA—Behind a career-high 17 points from guard Rachel Evans (sophomore, Fort Dodge), a relentless Central College women’s basketball team stunned Coe College Thursday night, 67-58.

Coe, which has advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament the past two years, was picked to win the Iowa Conference. But after an even halftime score, Central used aggressive offense and persistent defense to knock off the Kohawks and improve to 10-10 overall with a 3-6 conference record. It’s the most Dutch wins since 2003-04 and Central’s first victory over Coe since a 70-56 triumph Jan. 20, 2007, snapping a 12-game streak.

With 7:47 left to play, Central forced a five-second Coe turnover and grabbed a 43-42 lead with a Bry Pierce (center, sophomore, St. Clair, Mo.) three-point play on a fouled layup. After exchanging points, guard Kenzie Vander Molen (sophomore, Pella) drained a 3-pointer to put the Dutch up 60-54 at the 1:50 mark. Central hit seven free-throws to secure the victory.

“Kenzie had a huge 3-pointer from the sideline that picked up everybody’s momentum,” coach Mike Jacobsma said. “Then we got to the free-throw and made shots, which was key to finishing the game.

“It was seesaw, back-and-forth game, but our players refused to lose. We played to win instead of hoping to win.”

Evans hit three of eight buckets from the floor but owned the free-throw line, knocking down 11 of 15 shots. She also added five steals and four rebounds.

“Rachel did a phenomenal job getting to the line tonight,” Jacobsma said.

Vander Molen registered 13 points. Pierce had 11 points and six boards. Nicole Strasko (senior, Roland, Roland-Story HS) collected a game-high nine rebounds.

Central shot 43.8 percent from the floor, including 45.5 in the second half, while Coe hit 37.9. The Dutch knocked down 23-of-30 shots at the free-throw line and forced 22 Kohawk turnovers. Central also limited Coe guard Kayla Waskow, the league’s fourth-leading scorer, to just two points.

“It was a great team defensive effort,” Jacobsma said. “We were in great position on defense, contested shots and limited Coe to one shot.”

The Kohawks dropped to 11-9 overall and 4-5 in the conference.

Central faces Wartburg College Saturday in a league women’s-men’s twinbill starting at 2 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. Both games will be televised live on KCRG-TV’s digital channel 9.2 in Cedar Rapids and can also be viewed via www.kcrg.com. The contests will also be broadcast on KRLS-FM (92.1) and www.kniakrls.com.

Wartburg slipped to 12-8 overall with a 5-4 league record after falling to Dubuque Wednesday night 49-48. The Knights tripped the Dutch 69-38 Jan. 9 at Waverly.

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