Kole Tupa

Kole Tupa had 20 points in Florida Wednesday against Hope (Mich.)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Central College placed two players in double figures but Hope College (Mich.) came away with an 87-70 victory in Florida Wednesday.

Competing in the Hope College RDV Orlando Tournament, the host school got the win but Dutch coach Craig Douma was encouraged.

“Hope has a really nice team,” he said. “Their physicality gave us trouble but I thought we battled.”

Forward Kole Tupa (sophomore, Center Point, Center Point-Urbana HS) pumped in 20 points and freshman center Josh Van Gorp (Pella, Pella Christian HS) added 17 on 7-of-7 shooting for Central.

“Kole played hard,” Douma said. “He’s getting better.”

Meanwhile point guard Drew Edwards (junior, Eden Prairie, Minn.) dished out a career-high nine assists.

The Dutch (3-8) outshot Hope 51.1% to 48.4% but only led once after the opening minute. Hope (7-4) outrebounded Central 32-28.

Central was without veteran forward Caden Mauck (5th-year, Kansas City, Mo., Blue Springs South HS), who is sidelined but expected back when the team returns to Iowa.

Hope led 40-36 at intermission and Central scrapped its way to a brief 43-42 lead on a Tupa layup with 18:27 left. But Hope reasserted command with a 15-5 run and held a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

Mistakes foiled Central’s chances, Douma said. The Dutch committed 18 turnovers, hit only 18 of 29 free throws and were 4-of-13 from 3-point range, including 1-of-8 in the second half.

“When you’re in a tight game you can’t miss free throws,” he said. “But turnovers were were the difference in the second half. They got transition baskets off turnovers. We did a good job in the first half of getting into transition ourselves.”

Central was slated to conclude play in the tourney Thursday against North Central College (Ill.) but the game was called off due to health and safety concerns. The Cardinals (7-4) pushed Hope to overtime Tuesday before sustaining an 89-84 loss. Central returns to action at home next Wednesday, Jan. 5 with an American Rivers game against Wartburg College. It’s part of a women’s-men’s doubleheader at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium with the men’s game starting at 7:30 p.m. A video webcast and live stats can be accessed at athletics.central.edu. Wartburg is 10-1 overall and leads the league at 3-0.

“We’re getting better,” Douma said. “We’re excited to play.”

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