McKnight shines in Central men’s basketball defeat

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

WAUKESHA, WIS.—Guard Jamel McKnight (senior, Austin, Texas, Hendrickson HS) hit season highs with 24 points and seven assists but the Central College men’s basketball team surrendered a lead early in the second half and tumbled 76-71 to Carroll College (Wis.) Saturday.

McKnight, who had 14 points in Friday night’s loss to St. Norbert College (Wis.), was named to the all-tournament team at Carroll’s Nicholas Investments Tip-Off Classic but the Dutch, 0-3 overall, were 0-2 on the weekend.

“Jamel, from the second half last night on, really started playing like Jamel,” coach Craig Douma said. “One thing I was disappointed in was his turnovers (six) but overall he played really well. He kind of took the team on his shoulders.

“He had a pretty good weekend. I’m not worried about the turnovers. He’ll get better.”

Central used a 13-2 run to grab a 31-24 lead with 5:31 left in the first half and was still up 38-35 at halftime. But Carroll (2-1) scored the first four points of the second half and quickly regained the advantage. Central drew no closer than four points in the final 15 minutes as the Pioneers shot 61.5 percent from the floor in the second half.

“We played really well in the first half,” coach Craig Douma said. “We shot the ball better and we rebounded the ball well. But we had a chance in the first half to expand the lead. We missed a couple of shots we needed to get. We could have been up 12 or 14 points.”

Central shot 48.0 percent in the first half and slipped to 42.9 percent the rest of the way, but it was the Dutch second-half floor game that caught Douma’s attention.

“The most glaring thing was turnovers,” he said. “A lot of them were unforced. Part of it is we’re so young, and we’re still trying to gel. We’re not used to playing with each other yet.”

The Dutch had 19 turnovers for the game.

Forward Seth Wood (junior, Branson, Mo.) had 17 points and six rebounds while guard Jaden Moody (junior, Cambridge, Ballard HS) had 14 points.
“Jamel (McKnight), Seth and Jaden played a lot of minutes last night and came back and played a lot of minutes today,” Douma said. “Jamel played 38 minutes. They really stepped up.”

Despite a size disadvantage, Central outrebound Carroll, 31-29, but was outshot 49.1 percent to 45.3 and trailed in steals, 8-2. Yet Douma headed back to Iowa feeling even more optimistic about his club than he was a week ago.

“We showed a lot of grit,” he said. “The guys really played hard. We just need to get a little more help from the bench. We’ve got three freshmen coming off the bench, that’s part of it. The physicality of the college game is a little overwhelming to them right now. But they have to grow up quickly.”

And Douma said Central did get reserve contributions from guard Adam Flinn (sophomore, Wildwood, Mo., Lafayette HS), who had seven points and three assists Saturday.

“Adam gave us a lift,” Douma said. “He had a good weekend for us. He hit some shots when we really needed them.”

Central is home Tuesday to meet high-scoring Grinnell College at P.H. Kuyper Gym. The contest is part of a women’s-men’s doubleheader with the men slated to tip off at 8 p.m. The Central women meet Westminster College (Mo.) at 6 p.m. Grinnell raced past the Dutch at Grinnell last year, 119-93, and is off to a 2-1 start. A video webcast and live stats will be available through the Central athletics website at central.athletics.edu.

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