PELLA — Failing to match the sizzling shooting of the University of Dubuque, the shorthanded Central College men’s basketball team was outscored 104-82 Monday night.
The unbeaten Spartans (9-0 overall, 5-0 American Rivers) hit 61.7% from the field, including a steamy 63.6% from 3-point range.
Central (2-2 overall, 2-2 conference) was minus a pair of starters, forward Keaton Rodgers (sophomore, Peoria, Ariz., Sandra Day O’Connor HS) and guard Marcus Ashford, Jr. (junior, Lexington, Ky., Paris HS), who both suffered injuries last week and are sidelined indefinitely. Coach Craig Douma said their absence was especially noticeable on the defensive end, where the Dutch struggled.
“It hurts when you lose guys,” Douma said. “Keaton’s got that experience and he can guard multiple guys. And without Marcus we had one less player in our guard rotation. You miss that extra defense and tonight it was all about defense.”
But Douma said many of the shots the Spartans hit were well-defended.
“They’re a good team and they were hitting on all cylinders tonight,” he said. “They’ve got guys who can put the ball in and attack the hole. They have all the pieces right now.”
Guard Adam Flinn (senior, St. Louis, Mo., Lafayette HS) had his usual 22 points, hitting 6-of-9 from 3-point range. Forward Caden Mauck (senior, Kansas City, Mo., Blue Springs South HS) notched his 14th career double-double with 17 points and 11 boards along with four assists.
“I thought Caden played well,” Douma said. “He could have taken more shots. He’s such an unselfish player but sometimes he just needs to attack and go at them.”
Central also got 10 points and seven rebounds from guard Sam Beatty (sophomore, Mount Pleasant). A pair of freshmen made contributions as well, as forward Kole Tupa (Center Point, Center Point-Urbana HS) had nine points and center Joshua Van Gorp (Pella, Pella Christian HS) had seven rebounds.
Douma liked Central’s aggressiveness on the glass. Despite the size mismatch and a scarcity of missed Dubuque shots to chase down, the Dutch held a 40-33 advantage, hustling their way to 18 offensive boards.
“There wasn’t a lack of effort,” Douma said. “Our guys battled.”
Central’s game with Nebraska Wesleyan University, originally set for Wednesday at Lincoln, Nebraska, has been postponed until next Monday for health and safety reasons. The Dutch return to action Saturday with a 6:30 p.m. contest against Wartburg College at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. The Knights are 2-5 overall and 0-3 in American Rivers play, most recently dropping an 84-82 home court decision to Coe College Feb. 3.
“I liked our players’ attitude after the game,” Douma said. “They’re ready to move on. They’re keeping their heads up, they’re staying positive and they’re excited about our next game. We’ve got to forget about this one and get ready for Wartburg.”