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FOREST CITY— The promise shown by an energetic comeback was undone by cold shots down the stretch as the Central College women’s basketball team saw its season opener blighted 76-74 at Waldorf College on Tuesday.
Down by as many as 14 points in the first half and 42-33 at halftime, first-year coach morán lonningThe team used relentless full-court pressure to tie the game at 46-46 with 5:57 left on a 13-4 run. Central jumped out to a 74-70 lead with 2:00 remaining, only to go scoreless the rest of the way. The Dutch were 0-3 from the field and missed a pair of free throws in that span when a tackle by Sandra Christian with 3 seconds remaining gave Waldorf the winning margin.
“I think eventually we’re going to hit shots,” Lonning said. “But I think defensively that’s where we really turned the corner in the second half. We were able to come back with our pressure and our ability to wear them down.”
Central (0-1) shot 55.6% from the field during that third-quarter comeback, but a cold 32.1% for the game, including 20% from 3-point range on 6-for-30 shooting. The Dutch also suffered at the free throw line, shooting 55.2% (16-29) while Waldorf (2-3) shot 72.0% (18-25). The Warriors shot 42.6% from the field.
“I think our urgency and intensity increased in that third quarter,” Lonning said. “Now we just have to find a way to bring it back from the beginning. But I was very, very proud of how the players fought. They just worked their way back.”
elder guard Kelsea Hurley (Scottsdale, Arizona, Desert Mountain High School) and sophomore transfer guard samantha scott (Davenport, North Scott High School) each scored 16 points. Hurley also had nine rebounds, three assists and a block without committing a turnover. Scott had six boards.
“In the second half, Kelsea really started to get aggressive and hit some amazing shots,” Lonning said. “But that’s Kelsea. We all know she’s capable of doing that every night.”
guard point hannah dau (sophomore, Paullina, South O’Brien HS) added 10 points while transfer guard abby johnson (sophomore, Ankeny) and guard Cassidy Steel (junior, New Sharon, North Mahaska HS) each was credited with three robberies.
Lonning also liked the first-year point guard’s ground game. jasmine williams (Denver, Colo., Arvada West HS)He had seven points and three rebounds.
“Jazzy was able to drive a little bit and Hannah (Dau) was able to drive a little bit and open the door for the other shooters,” Lonning said.
The Dutchman, playing without conference center injured Allison Van Gorp (Sophomore, Pella, Pella Christian HS) they were outrebounded 43-31 but forced 20 Waldorf turnovers, notching 12 steals.
While it was a disappointing debut, the first game served its purpose by giving the young team some early lessons.
“I’m glad I put myself in this situation in my first game and I’m ready to learn as a coach,” Lonning said. “It’s still annoying to lose, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re going to learn from this and it will help us down the road.”
Central makes its home season debut Thursday against North Central University (Minn.) at 6 pm at PH Kuyper Gymnasium. It’s the season opener for the Rams, who are coming off an Upper Midwest Athletic Conference championship, posting an overall record of 24-5 and making a trip to the NCAA Division III tournament. Leah Szabla, a former coach at Crown College (Minn.), is in her first season as head coach at North Central, where she previously served as an assistant.