The Central College men’s basketball team earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national tournament Saturday night, as the Dutch blitzed Buena Vista University 99-79 in the Iowa Conference Tournament Championship. It’s the first league championship in the 11-year history of the tournament for the Dutch, and completes a sweep of the regular season and tournament titles in the conference. Central’s 23-4 record is their best in program history as the Dutch will make their first national tournament appearance since the 1994-95 season.
The Dutch controlled their destiny from the very beginning, quickly jumping out to a 10-0 lead to start the game. Central was up 22-6 midway through the first 20 minutes, and had grown their lead all the way out to 51-28 by halftime. The Dutch maintained that intensity in the second half and led the overwhelmed Beavers by as many as 30 points as Buena Vista was never able to cut deep into Central’s sizeable lead.
“Our guys came out of the gates just inspired, and it carried over to the defensive end,” said Central Head Coach Mike Boschee after the game. “I think sometimes our defense kind of carries back over into our offense – more than most teams do. I think the crowd was great, I think that helped us. Anytime you get this place packed it gets loud in here, and it really inspires our group of guys.”
Seniors Miguel Ley and Mark Holan each scored 26 points to lead Central on offense, with Ley dishing out 8 assists and Holan swiping 5 steals. Loren Liming filled the stat sheet with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks, while fellow senior Zach Cooper led the Dutch on the glass with 10 rebounds and added 9 points.
Central shot 53 percent from the floor, including 10 of 24 three-point attempts, while Buena Vista converted on 47 percent of their shots, but made just 2 of 12 attempts from beyond the arc. Both teams shot well from the free-throw line, with Central knocking down 17 of 21 attempts at the charity stripe, while the Beavers converted on 25 of their 31 attempts.
With two wins in the Iowa Conference tournament at home, Central is now 13-0 at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium, and have won ten straight games. The Dutch, who were recently ranked No. 25 in the nation, will find out who their first-round opponent is and where the game will be played this morning when the 61-team field for the national tournament is announced.
Click the links below to hear post-game interviews with members of the Central College men’s basketball team: