Wood hits 32 as short-handed Central pushes No. 1 Nebraska Wesleyan

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Forward Seth Wood (junior, Branson, Mo.) rained in a career-high 32 points and the Central College men's basketball team put some heat on No. 1-ranked Nebraska Wesleyan before tumbling 91-83.
The Dutch (1-5 overall, 0-1 American Rivers Conference) hung tough on the road despite playing without their leading scorer entering the night, guard Jaden Moody (junior, Cambridge, Ballard HS), who sustained an injury in practice. His status for upcoming action is uncertain.
But Wood lit it up from long range, burying eight 3-point goals, one shy of the school record. He was 10-of-20 from the floor with a career-high 13 rebounds.
"Seth had a heck of a ballgame," coach Craig Douma said. "He really played well."
Meanwhile, point guard Jamel McKnight (senior, Austin, Texas, Hendrickson HS) had a season-best 22 points with a career-high 11 assists along with six rebounds and three blocks.
"Jamel came back and played with some grit," Douma said.
With Moody out, Saad Ali (sophomore, Glendale, Ariz., Copper Canyon HS) was inserted into the starting lineup and Douma was excited about the results.
"Saad did a great job defensively," he said. "This was his most extended varsity minutes and he really stepped up. He showed some things."
Down 46-36 at the half, Central trailed 71-54 with 11:28 left in the game, but fired its way to within 75-70 on an Adam Flinn (sophomore, Wildwood, Mo., Lafayette HS) 3-pointer with 5:11 left. But the defending NCAA Division III champs responded with a 5-point run to regain command.
"We hung in there," Douma said. "We didn't give up. But Nebraska Wesleyan is a good team. They can score the ball."
Nebraska Wesleyan (7-0 overall, 1-0 conference) outshot Central 54.7 percent to 45.2 percent, including 53.8 percent from 3-point range (14-26), and placed five players in double figures. But despite a significant size disadvantage, Central won the rebounding battle 40-26, grabbing 14 offensive boards. However, the Dutch committed 17 turnovers.
"I don't like moral victories, but I like the heart we showed tonight," Douma said. "We played with a lot of grit and a lot of toughness."
Central returns to non-conference action Saturday, tackling the University of Wis.-La Crosse in a 3 p.m. game at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. The Eagles are 3-2, scoring a 76-64 win over America Rivers rival Luther College Nov. 14. Central lost at Wis.-La Crosse 81-70 last year and trails in the teams' all-time series, 2-1. It's Alumni Weekend for the Dutch, as their career 1,000-point scorers will be recognized at halftime and the team will host an alumni dinner Friday night.
"We're really excited about the special weekend we have coming up," Douma said. "We're played a really good team. We've got to build on tonight and be ready to go."