League leader fends off Dutch women’s basketball team

Central College

Central College

DUBUQUE—The Central College women’s basketball team cut its second-half deficit to five points or less on two occasions, but Iowa Conference co-leader Loras fended off the pressure in a 71-63 win Saturday afternoon.

The Duhawks’ (9-6 overall, 4-0 conference) 11-point halftime lead dwindled to one, but a 20-3 scoring spurt midway through the second put the game out of reach. The Dutch (9-6 overall, 1-3 conference) battled back as the clock wound down, but it was not enough.

The win ensured Loras will remain tied atop the league standings.

“Loras played with a lot of confidence,” coach Chelsea Petersen said. “We played well in parts, but we didn’t execute well enough overall. It was a game we could have won, but we needed to be perfect and we weren’t. We weren’t aggressive enough on offense or sound enough on defense. Basketball is a game of runs and we didn’t get stops in key moments.”

Guard Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, Pella) continued to dominate conference opponents’ backcourts, scoring a career-high 30 points on 10-of-21 shooting with five assists and two steals. Guard Courtney Kelderman (senior, Pella) came off the bench to score 14 points on 4-of-10 from 3-point range and added four rebounds and three assists. Forward Jessy Stika (senior, Cresco, Crestwood HS) tallied five points and hauled in a team-high six boards.

Vander Molen scored 21 of her 30 points in the closing frame.

“Kenzie had a great second half,” Petersen said. “She led the charge back, but we were too far down. Courtney shot the ball well, too. I always say we need at least three in double figures to win and we didn’t get there.”

Central eclipsed the 50-percent mark from the field in the second half, but Loras did, as well. The Dutch finished 22-of-52 (42.3 percent) from the floor and connected on 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) 3-point attempts, but the Duhawks finished 25-of-52 (48.1 percent), 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) from behind the arc and made seven more free throws (16-9).

“We didn’t do what we needed to do prior to the final two minutes,” said Petersen. “We had our moments, but we didn’t put together a full 40. We battled back, but the deficit was too great. I was proud of our effort in the second half.”

The two teams were even in turnovers (13-13) and, despite Loras’ 37-25 rebounding advantage, even in second chance points (10-10).

“We took care of the ball and shot much better than we did Wednesday,” said Petersen. “But to win this type of game on the road, we need to get stops. We had the opportunity to take the lead, but we didn’t seize control.”

The Dutch return to P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium Wednesday against Simpson (8-7 overall, 3-1 conference). The Storm swept last season’s two game series, including a two-point win in the regular season finale at Pella. Simpson knocked off Luther 79-71 Saturday afternoon at Indianola. The Storm were voted the preseason favorite after finishing last season atop the league standings with a 13-1 record and advancing to the 2013 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament sweet sixteen.

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