Strong second half propels Central to men’s basketball victory

Central College

Central College

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—The Central College men’s basketball team played stingy defense and scored 41 points in the second half of a 67-54 win over Bridgewater (Va.) Saturday afternoon at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Following a low-scoring first half, the Dutch (6-4 overall) shot 55.2 percent from the field (16-of-29) in the closing frame and held the Eagles (5-4 overall) to 9-of-34 shooting (26.5 percent) en route to the 13-point win.

“It was a good win,” coach Craig Douma said. “Bridgewater is a tough, physical and athletic team with a couple wins over top-25 opponents this season. It was a confidence building win for our team.”

Central overcame 24 turnovers due to its stingy defense and rebounding, holding Bridgewater to 7.1 percent (1-of-14) from behind the 3-point arc, including 0-of-8 in the second half, blocking seven shots and dominating the glass with 52 rebounds to the Eagles’ 34.

“Our defense was really good,” said Douma. “Bridgewater didn’t get good looks. Shots were contested, altered and often outside the paint. Nothing was easy. Defense and rebounding won us the game. We scored better in the second half and we continued to defend and rebound. That’s the type of performance we need night in and night out.”

Four Dutch players reached double-digit point totals, led by forward Matt Greenfield (senior, Huxley, Ballard HS) with a game-high 17 on 8-of-19 shooting to go with six rebounds. Guards Nile Eckermann (junior, Cosgrove, Clear Creek Amana HS), Kevin Kaerwer (senior, El Paso, Texas, John L. Chapin HS) and Fred Pratt (senior, Rosenberg, Texas, Lamar Consolidated HS) joined Greenfield with 15, 10 and 10 points, respectively. Eckermann connected of 3-of-5 from behind the 3-point arc, while Pratt added a game-high six assists.

“We had a lot of different guys step up tonight,” Douma said. “Matt really got us going in the second half. Fred played a great game and made some big plays down the stretch. Nile hit some big shots in big moments.”

Forward Yaw Sapon-Amoah (senior, Ghana, Africa, Des Moines Christian HS) came off the bench to haul in a game-high 13 rebounds and chipped in six points and three blocked shots. Guard Colby Taylor (freshman, Creston) made his first career start, posting four points and six rebounds in 26 minutes. Douma also noted the play of forward Kyle Newendorp (junior, Pella), who posted two points, two rebounds and one blocked shot in seven minutes off the bench.

“Yaw had a great game. He was the difference. He neutralized their best player and was all over the boards. He was a defensive presence.”

Bridgewater’s Ed Reddick, Yaw’s defensive assignment, led the team with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but only converted on 4-of-14 shots from the field.

“We had great bench play today,” said Douma. “That really gave us a lift. We subbed more due to the hot and humid conditions, but we didn’t miss a beat.”

Next up the Dutch battle host school Sacred Heart (P.R.) Sunday at 1 p.m. The two teams played for the first and only time in 2011-12 at San Juan, an 87-69 Central victory.

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