Central snags elusive men’s basketball win at Nebraska Wesleyan

LINCOLN, NEB.—It required surviving a few white-knuckle moments, but the Central College men’s basketball team stole away with its first win over Nebraska Wesleyan University since 2017 Wednesday night 73-67.

Center Joshua Van Gorp (junior, Pella, Pella Christian HS) had 24 points on 12-of-15 shooting and the Dutch (5-3 overall, 1-0 American Rivers) snapped a nine-game losing streak in the series. It was Central’s first regular-season victory at Lincoln since 1989, long before Nebraska Wesleyan joined the American Rivers in 2014.

Up 33-31 at halftime, Central used a 13-point run to build a 59-42 lead midway through the second half.

“The big difference in the game was that stretch halfway through the second half,” coach Joe Steinkamp said. “We just got a ton of consecutive stops and were able to string enough baskets to extend the lead.”

The Dutch were still in command 62-48 with just 4 minutes left. But then the Prairie Wolves (2-4 overall, 0-1 conference) staged a frantic rally, with seemingly every bounce and deflection suddenly going their way. After seeing the lead melt to as few as four, Central finally cracked the Prairie Wolves’ pressure and guard Kaleb Brand (junior, Mount Vernon) slammed home a breakaway dunk to seal it with 15 seconds left. The collective exhalation from Central fans could be heard whistling across the Nebraska plains.

“Some of their big guys that hadn’t made a lot of threes were hitting threes (during the rally) but, ultimately, we did a really good job on their best player,” Steinkamp said. “I’m just really proud of the guys’ defensive effort that continues to be a strength of our team.”

The Dutch blocked 12 shots, including five from 6-foot-10 stat-stuffer Grant Johnson (senior, Waukee, Van Meter HS), who also had a team-high seven assists and six rebounds. Van Gorp had three blocks

“Obviously Grant and Josh are a big part of that but pretty much everyone in the lineup got a block,” Steinkamp said. “We did a really good job of protecting the rim and it was fun to watch.”

Central outshot Nebraska Wesleyan 59.2% to 36.5% and held a commanding 42-23 rebounding advantage. Steinkamp was less enamored with Central’s 22 turnovers.

“The only thing that really hurt us were the turnovers but we also had 20 assists,” he said. “When we took care of the ball and kind of slowed ourselves down, I thought we did a better job of just finding an open player and kind of spread them out.”

Down the stretch, the poised performance of fifth-year guard Kade Terrell (Montrose, Colo.) was crucial, Steinkamp said. He handled the ball much of the night but had just one turnover.

“And he’s a scorer,” Steinkamp said, noting Terrell’s 18 points. “He can score off the bounce. He’s mature and wants to take those big shots. It seemed like when we needed a big one, he came through.”

Van Gorp again forced the most defensive attention.

“He gets so many seals and our guys continue to do a great job of finding him,” Steinkamp said. “Getting 24 points on 15 shots is unbelievable.”

Central takes on preseason conference favorite University of Dubuque Saturday in a home women’s-men’s doubleheader. The Spartans are 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference after defeating Buena Vista University at home Wednesday 76-60.

“It’s always tough to get road wins in this league, especially against a team as good as Nebraska Wesleyan,” Steinkamp said. “We’ll take every road win we can get and we’ve got another game this week that we’re excited for as well. Dubuque is the defending champion and is coming off a win tonight so it’s going to take another great effort, but these guys will be ready to go.”

Game time is approximately 4 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium.

Posted by on Nov 30 2022. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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