A season that was, in many ways, the best in the history of the Central College men’s basketball program came to an unfortunate ending Friday night, as the Dutch fell to Illinois Wesleyan 86-81 in the opening round of the NCAA Division III National Tournament at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Titans held a 45-36 advantage at halftime, but Central was able to chip away at the deficit, getting to within two points of Illinois Wesleyan in the final seconds, before coming up short. Head Coach Mike Boschee said his team’s offense was much improved in the final 20 minutes, but the Titans were able to respond every time the Dutch gained momentum.
“I felt that the first shot we took some shots that we don’t normally take, and it hurt us,” said Boschee. “But in the second half, we shot a good percentage, we took well-balanced shots from the perimeter and got the ball inside, but Illinois Wesleyan countered everything that we were able to do to them and we just came up a little short.”
In his final game in Central red, senior forward Loren Liming turned in another outstanding performance – scoring 25 points, snagging 7 rebounds and totalling 4 blocks before fouling out down the stretch. Fellow senior and Iowa Conference MVP Miguel Ley added 18 points and 7 assists as the final touch on a remarkable season. Illinois Wesleyan was led by junior Sean Johnson, who scored 24 points, including six three-pointers.
The Central men finished the 2009-10 season with an overall record of 23-5 and were 16-2 against Iowa Conference opponents en route to sweeping both the conference’s regular season and tournament titles.