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A cold start was the difference as the Central College women's basketball team dropped its American Rivers Conference opener at Nebraska Wesleyan 74-63 Wednesday night.
The Dutch hit just 20 percent from the floor in the first quarter and dug a 20-9 hole. The 11-point difference matched the final margin. Central (2-6 overall, 0-1 conference) shot 30.2 percent for the game, including 10-of-34 from 3-point range. Nebraska Wesleyan (3-3 overall, 1-0 conference) shot 35.7 percent from the field.
"I was most disappointed that we were nine-for-30 on 2-point shots," coach Joe Steinkamp said. "We had a lot of good looks around the paint but we were not able to hit."
Guard Kristin Hubert (senior, Hornick, Woodbury Central HS) was an exception, knocking down seven of 15 shots and finishing with a game-high 20 points along with four assists.
"Kristin had another good game," Steinkamp said. "She handled their pressure well."
Hubert had two turnovers against the Nebraska Wesleyan full-court press but the Dutch were forced into 24 overall. However, Central held a 53-43 rebounding edge.
Freshman guard Maci Gambell (Hedrick, Pekin HS) had nine points and seven rebounds. Steinkamp also saw progress off the bench from forward Payton Rogers (sophomore, Moravia). Rogers had 11 rebounds and five points.
"She didn't score that well but I was really pleased with her energy and effort," Steinkamp said. "She rebounded well and she played really good defense. She played hard. It was her best game."
Effort is not lacking elsewhere, either.
"The players are fighting," Steinkamp said. "They're playing pretty good defense, we've outrebounded most of the teams we've played and even though they're undersized, it's a pretty tough group. We just have to get better offensively."
After playing eight games in 21 days, Central has a week off before traveling to Cedar Rapids for a league women's-men's doubleheader at Coe College next Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m. The Kohawks are 3-1 after hammering Buena Vista University at Storm Lake Wednesday night, 86-56.
"Coe is a very good defensive team," Steinkamp said. "They've got a good mix of posts and guards back from last year. They're a good, all-around team. They're very physical."
Meanwhile, Central will get some much-needed practice time.
"It's been a grind," Steinkamp said. "We've had a bunch of road games in a row. It will be nice to have some practice time and a couple of days off this weekend. We'll put a few new things in and try to get better."