PELLA — In one of the season’s most complete team efforts, the Central College women’s basketball team notched its second straight win, outlasting Nebraska Wesleyan University 81-71 Saturday.
The Dutch (10-6 overall, 2-5 American Rivers) put five players in double figures. Forward Kendall Brown (senior, Moravia) topped the charts with 21 points, five rebounds and another four blocked shots.
“Kendall’s play tonight, going 10-for-12, was great,” coach Joe Steinkamp said. “They couldn’t handle her down low, She was just great in there.”
Guard Emily Hay (junior, Stanwood, North Cedar HS) had 17 points and seven rebounds, forward Payton Rogers (junior, Moravia) had 11 points, guard Kelsea Hurley (freshman, Scottsdale, Ariz., Desert Mountain HS) had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists and guard Maci Gambell (sophomore, Hedrick, Pekin HS) had 10 points. Freshman guard Carson Fisk (Searsboro, Lynnville-Sully HS) had a career-high eight assists.
“I was really impressed by how Emily Hay played,” Steinkamp said. “Not only did she shoot the ball well but her defensive activity was great with the six steals and she also had seven rebounds. She’s so intense and she plays so hard. It was really fun to see her play well.”
Rogers typically provides defense and rebounding but contributed offense as well.
“Payton Rogers had a great game again off the bench,” Steinkamp said. “She continues to just give us energy, whenever she steps on the floor.
“More than anything I was really happy with how hard we played and how many different people stepped up.”
Central’s back-to-back victories give the squad a much-needed emotional lift after a rocky 0-5 start to league play.
“It means a lot,” Steinkamp said. “We knew you know our schedule early on, wasn’t easy. We played all those top teams, but it really prepared us for this. This week we had a great week of practice. We had a big win on the road to start the week and then to close it off with beating Nebraska Wesleyan--they had beaten us three in a row. It was nice to be able to beat them and put us in a position where we can look ahead for the second half of the conference season.”
While Central led most of the way, the lead changed hands five times and the final 10-point margin was the game’s biggest. The Dutch were up 46-41 at halftime and 61-58 after three periods. Nebraska Wesleyan (5-10 overall, 2-6 conference) closed to 64-62 with 6:57 left, but Central used a 7-1 burst, highlighted by a four-point play from Gambell, to take control.
Central was hot from the field, hitting 51.7%, including 42.9% from 3-point range while limiting Nebraska Wesleyan to 36.2% from the floor. The Dutch had 25 assists on 31 field goals.
“We haven’t had that many assists in a long time so it’s really fun to see,” Steinkamp said. “We had multiple players be able to make plays and read the defense. That’s something that we’ve been working on a lot. It was really good to see everything kind of carry over into the game.”
Steinkamp also cited the role of the team’s bench.
“All weekend in practice our White team and our Gray team just did an outstanding job of preparing us,” he said. “It’s the people who play a lot who get a lot of the recognition, but our bench did a great job of giving us difference looks. It was a total team win and everyone helped make it happen.”
Central is home again Wednesday for a league women’s-men’s doubleheader with Buena Vista University starting at 5:30 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium.
Buena Vista was off Saturday and carries a 1-15 overall record and a 0-7 league mark into the game. The teams split a pair of games last year and Buena Vista has won nine of the past 10 against the Dutch.