Kelsea Hurley

Kelsea Hurley had a team-high nine points Wednesday

PELLA — Down three guards and a head coach, the Central College women’s basketball team mustered a scrappy defensive effort but came up empty on the offensive end in a 58-35 loss to No. 14/20-rated Wartburg College Saturday.

The Dutch held Wartburg—rated No. 14 by and No. 20 by the WBCA—scoreless for more than seven minutes in taking an early 8-0 lead and were still up 9-5 after the first quarter. But Central (2-7 overall, 1-3 American Rivers) went without a field goal in the final 14:56 of the half and, despite the defensive effort, trailed 24-14 at intermission. The Dutch were outscored 39-9 in the second and third periods.

Coach Joe Steinkamp was sidelined by a non-COVID related illness while the three guards were out with injuries. That resulted in ballhandling issues as the Dutch committed 30 turnovers while shooting an icy 21.6% from the field for the game.

“We played a lot of different lineups,” said assistant Kayla Engelhard. “We had people playing positions they hadn’t played before. But I thought we handled it well and we fought really hard.”

Central limited Wartburg (9-2 overall, 3-1 conference) to 33.3% shooting and outrebounded the Knights 51-38.

Guard Kelsea Hurley (junior, Scottsdale, Ariz., Desert Mountain HS) had nine points while center Allison Van Gorp (freshman, Pella, Pella Christian HS) had eight points and 10 rebounds. Guard Kassidi Steel (sophomore, New Sharon, North Mahaska HS) had a game-high 11 rebounds.

“We did a really good job defensively,” Engelhard said. “We held Wartburg below 60 points which is great for us. And we won on the boards, which we haven’t done in a while.

“If we could just hit a few more shots we would have been in it.”

Central was 0-for-20 from three-point range.

“We just had a hard time getting into a rhythm offensively,” Engelhard said. “And give Wartburg credit. They doubled our posts really hard and made life difficult for them down there. Some of the easy points we usually get down there we didn’t get tonight.”

It was Central’s second consecutive game against a nationally ranked opponent after tackling No. 1 Hope College (Mich.) last Wednesday in Florida.

Central travels to Dubuque to meet Loras College Saturday in a women’s-men’s doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. The Duhawks’ game with Luther College Wednesday was called off for health and safety reasons. Loras is 8-4 overall and 2-1 in league play.

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