Central freshman duo combines for 43 but unbeaten Monmouth women prevail

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A pair of freshmen hit career highs but the Central College women's basketball offense stalled in the third quarter in a 61-53 loss to unbeaten Monmouth College (Ill.) Sunday.
Guards Jenna Clark (freshman, Story City, Roland-Story HS) and Maci Gambell (freshman, Hedrick, Pekin HS) went off for 23 and 20 points, respectively. Clark also had a team-high 11 rebounds. Their performances bode well for the future, coach Joe Steinkamp said.
"They were very efficient," he said. "They really carried us offensively. To have two players with more than 20 points, you don't see that very often. But they both shot the ball really well and attacked the rim. And for Jenna, as a guard, to have 11 rebounds is really good. She's such a good rebounder."
They helped spark a strong first-half effort that saw the Dutch grab a surprising 33-27 lead. But Central (2-5) was outscored 16-6 in the third quarter. No other Central player had more than three points.
"Monmouth's a really good team," Steinkamp said. "We played good defense. They were averaging over 80 points a game so we really held them down. We had good shooting in the first half and only four turnovers. But it was a combination of missed shots and turnovers that hurt us in the second half."
Central had 15 turnovers for the game. The Dutch shot 33.3 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from 3-point range, but were especially frustrated at the free throw line, sinking just 13-of-24 (54.2 percent).
"We've been a good free throw shooting team," Steinkamp said. "That's really uncharacteristic. But we'll make free throws. That's the least of our worries."
Monmouth (5-0) shot 36.8 percent from the floor but 93.3 percent from the free thow line (14-15). Central led on the boards, 41-34.
Central opens American Rivers Conference play Wednesday with a women's-men's doubleheader at Lincoln, Nebraska with Nebraska Wesleyan tipping off at 6 p.m. The Prairie Wolves are 2-3 after a 66-59 victory at Grinnell College Saturday. Central split a pair of games with Nebraska Wesleyan last season.
"Playing Knox (Saturday) will help prepare us because they're a zone (defense) team," Steinkamp said. "They also run a full-court press. We'll have to be ready to break the press and score in transition."
Nebraska Wesleyan guard Caitlin Navratil was the league's leading scorer last year.
"She's a very good point guard," Steinkamp said. "She can score from anywhere."
While it was a winless weekend, Steinkamp was encouraged.
"I like the direction of our team," he said. "We're giving good effort. If we can start going longer periods of time without empty possessions, I think we'll be able to win these games."