Drew Edwards

Guard Drew Edwards had six points and seven boards in Wednesday's road loss

WAVERLY — Central College saw its five-game men’s basketball win streak snapped as Wartburg College used a big first half to prevail 80-69 Wednesday.

Center Joshua Van Gorp (junior, Pella, Pella Christian HS) had 22 points and nine rebounds but the Dutch (8-4 overall, 3-1 American Rivers) suffered their first conference loss.

Wartburg (5-8 overall, 2-2 conference) took a 44-36 halftime lead on the defensive-minded Dutch and shot 50.8% for the game, including 40.9% from 3-point range. Guard Keegan John went off for 25 points and reserve Cade Daugherty had 17.

“They just made a lot of really tough shots throughout the game,” coach Joe Steinkamp said. “Keegan John had a great game. He made a lot of late shot-clock shots and some tough shots. And then Cade Daugherty came off the bench and hit four threes. And they were able to do a few things to slow us down and take away some of our easy stuff. It was just one of those games.”

Wartburg’s 44 first-half points were the most surrendered by Central this year.

“We talked about that at halftime,” Steinkamp said. “Some of it was we need to be better on defense but a lot of it was just really tough shots by Wartburg.”

Central forward Grant Johnson (senior, Waukee, Van Meter HS) had a game-high 11 rebounds and a career-best nine assists along with eight points. Johnson also blocked four shots, giving him 36 on the year, which ranks 13th in the NCAA Division III and is already near the top-10 season totals in school history. Meanwhile, Van Gorp hit 9 of 11 shots from the field and ranks fourth in Division III in field goal percentage at 69.9%.

“Josh (Van Gorp) had another great game and Grant almost had a triple-double,” Steinkamp said. “But we just didn’t play quite at the pace that we’ve been playing at. Part of it was because they scored so much we had to take the ball out of the net and just didn’t get our transition game going.

“When we’ve played really well this year we’ve had multiple guys in double figures and tonight we just had one,” Steinkamp said. “That was big for Wartburg.”

Central shot a respectable 47.4% from the field and outrebounded Wartburg 41-29 but was outscored in both halves.

“We’ll bounce back,” Steinkamp said. “We have a tough-minded group and we’ll learn from this one.”

Central is home Saturday for a women’s-men’s conference twinbill against Loras College with the men’s game starting at 4 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gym. Loras is alone in first in the conference at 4-0 and is 10-3 overall after winning at Luther College Wednesday 85-73.

“The league is as unpredictable as ever,” Steinkamp said. “Every team is a threat, everybody’s capable. I think that’s what really makes the league so fun.”

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