Central stays in men’s basketball tourney berth chase

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

PELLA—Keeping its American Rivers tournament hopes alive, the Central College men’s basketball team put five players in double figures and held off a Luther College 3-point barrage in a 94-90 win Saturday.

The Dutch (8-15 overall, 5-9 American Rivers) victory, combined with an 83-61 University of Dubuque loss at Buena Vista University, puts them a game behind the Spartans for the sixth and final spot in the tourney with two games remaining. It snapped a six-game losing skid.

Central had trouble shaking the Norse, who drained 17 of 35 3-point shots. The Dutch were up 40-38 at halftime and stretched its lead to 80-68 with 3:53 remaining but Luther (7-15 overall, 1-13 conference) hit five 3-point goals in the final 2:46, pulling as close as 91-88 with 25 seconds remaining. Guard Shimar Jones (senior, Marshall, Texas) hit six free throws in the final 48 seconds to help secure the win.

Jones, who had just three first-half points, finished with a game-high 23 points and three assists while backcourt mate Jamel McKnight (senior, Austin, Texas, Hendrickson HS) had 21 points, four assists and eight rebounds.

“What a second half for Shimar,” coach Craig Douma said. “He played well on both ends of the floor. He really locked up his guy defensively, stayed strong, really got to the boards and made his free throws. And we needed every free throw.”

Guard Jaden Moody (junior, Cambridge, Ballard HS) had 15 points, three assists and a game-high nine rebounds, forward Thomas Spoehr (freshman, Bennington, Neb.) had 13 points and six boards and forward Seth Wood (junior, Branson, Mo.) had 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

“We were really balanced,” Douma said. “That was fun to see.”

Central outshot Luther 52.5 percent to 43.8 and held a 41-36 rebounding advantage. The Dutch were 21 of 29 from the free throw line to Luther’s nine of 15.

“We played a pretty good 40 minutes of basketball,” Douma said. “We didn’t have to come from behind, we had the lead. We did a lot of good things on the defensive end and offensively I thought we were a lot smarter today. We had a lot better ball movement, we got the ball inside, we attacked different ways, we shot the ball well. We only had a couple times we shot too quick in the second half.”

It was a big turnaround from a 108-78 disappointment at Buena Vista Wednesday.

“I’m proud of the bounce-back,” Douma said. “The guys really responded well. They came back Thursday ready to work. I thought we had two nice practices.”

A graduated Dutch player returned to address the team Thursday, which made an impact, Douma said.

“He came back and said a few nice words,” he said. “Those kinds of things in a program, when you have an alum come back and support you like that, and who cares that much, it’s great to have it come from them and not the coaches. I think our guys really listened to what he had to say and I think we responded with a great practice and got ourselves prepared the way we needed to.”

Central travels to Indianola Wednesday, facing Simpson College in a conference women’s-men’s twinbill with the men’s game starting at 8 p.m. The Dutch defeated Simpson (13-9 overall, 7-7 conference) 87-84 at Pella Jan. 16. They need a pair of wins in the regular season’s final week to stay in the hunt for a tourney berth.

“We need some help but it’s attainable,” Douma said. “This was a good first step. When you’re coming off the losing streak that we had, you’ve just got to get a win and this was a really good win. I know Luther’s record is not that good but you’ve got to give Luther credit the way they keep grinding. They’ve been playing better lately and playing teams tough.”

Posted by on Feb 10 2019. 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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