PELLA — Flashing the offensive spark it lacked early in the year, the Central College men’s basketball team staged a furious second-half rally before dropping an 80-75 decision to American Rivers leader Wartburg College Wednesday.
The Dutch (3-9 overall, 0-4 conference) trailed by as many as 15 points but erupted for 47 second-half points and grabbed the lead late in the contest. A 3-point bucket by guard Kade Terrell (senior, Montrose, Colo.) put Central up 75-74 with just 1:38 remaining but the Dutch were scoreless the rest of the way.
“We played hard for 20 minutes in the second half,” coach Craig Douma said. “We battled. We just had two or three times where we made a layup and then they came back and got a layup. They just beat us in transition. Even their big guys run the floor well and we knew that’s an advantage they have. That’s something we have to work on. But I’m really proud of the way we battled against the team that’s at the top of the league.
“We’re talking to the team about now we have to put two halves together.”
Terrell had a team-high 19 points to go with two assists and four rebounds.
“Kade Terrell had a nice game,” Douma said. “He really played well. He shot open threes, he guarded really well and he rebounded. That’s probably the best overall game he’s played. We need his leadership and playing ball like that.”
Center Josh Van Gorp (sophomore, Pella, Pella Christian HS) and guard Kaleb Brand (sophomore, Mount Vernon) each had 10 points. Guard Drew Edwards (junior, Eden Prairie, Minn.) had six assists.
Central outrebounded Wartburg 33-30. The Dutch shot 58.6% from the floor in the second half and 52.7% for the game, knocking down eight 3-point goals and leaving Douma encouraged.
“We shot the ball well,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about catch-and-shoot threes and we shot those really well. There’s no reason we can’t be that kind of 3-point shooting team.”
The Dutch got a lift from two roster additions. Center Grant Johnson (junior, Waukee, Van Meter HS) and transfer guard Kale Purcell (freshman, Holton, Kansas) both saw significant minutes in their season debuts. Johnson had five points and five boards while Purcell also had five points. Each had two assists.
“Grant made a difference with his presence,” Douma said. “He had one block but he also changed a lot of shots.
“And for Kale, that was his first college game ever. He’s only had two college practices. He was a little nervous, I think, in the first half but he settled down and really gave us a lift in the second half and made some plays for us.”
Central takes on Loras College Saturday at Dubuque in a women’s-men’s doubleheader with the men’s game slated to tip off at 4 p.m. The Duhawks are 10-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play after dropping a 78-74 decision at home against Luther College Wednesday.
“Loras is a tough, tough opponent,” Douma said. “They’re aggressive, they’re athletic, they run the floor well and they defend.”