DUBUQUE — It was a losing effort, but a 37-point third-quarter eruption sparked some hopes for the young Central College women’s basketball team in a 96-75 setback at Loras College Saturday.
Trailing 43-23 at intermission, Central (2-8 overall, 1-4 American Rivers) hit 80% from the field in the third quarter and was six of eight from three-point range, scoring more points in the period than it did in the entire game in Wednesday’s 58-35 loss to Wartburg College.
“That was the best quarter we’ve played all year,” said coach Joe Steinkamp, back after missing most of the week with illness. “And even though in the first half we weren’t knocking down shots, we were playing with a better pace than we’ve been playing with. Offense has been a struggle for us sometimes this year but that second half is something we feel we can build upon in the second half of our conference season.”
Fueling the surge was a breakout shooting performance by guard Emma Wright (Eau Claire, Wis., Memorial HS) who drilled six three-point goals, including four in the third quarter. Wright has had an injury-plagued career, seeing little action, and wasn’t cleared to play following her most recent injury until Friday, but scored a career-high 18 points.
“I’m really happy for her,” coach Joe Steinkamp said. “She’s a good 3-point shooter. She played with a lot of confidence and our guards did a good job of finding her in transition. It was fun to be a part of this with her.”
Freshman center Allison Van Gorp (Pella, Pella Christian HS) hit eight of nine shots and scored a team-high 20 points while guard Kelsea Hurley (junior, Scottsdale, Ariz., Desert Mountain HS) had 19.
“We went inside to Allison and she made some good plays against one of the best centers in the league,” Steinkamp said. “Then when they started doubling her, she was able to kick it outside and we had a variety of players hitting shots.”
Central was outrebounded 33-32 but turnovers were again costly, committing 23 to seven for Loras. The Duhawks (9-4 overall, 3-1 conference) scored 27 points off turnovers. Central outshot Loras 48.0% to 45.9%. Loras also hit 14 3-point goals.
“You can’t give up 14 threes and expect to win,” Steinkamp said.
Central, which has been hammered by injuries and illness, is nearing full strength and takes on Buena Vista University at Storm Lake Wednesday in a league women’s-men’s doubleheader starting at 5:30 p.m. The Beavers are 4-8 overall and 2-4 in the conference after a 59-56 home-court loss to Coe College Saturday.