Central women see second-half lead slip away on road

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Central College made a bid for its first league road win in four years but saw a 10-point second-half lead melt away in a 52-48 women's basketball defeat at Coe College Wednesday, mustering just two points in the final 8 minutes.
After trailing most of the first half, Central (2-7 overall, 0-2 American Rivers Conference) took a 28-27 lead at intermission, then opened the third quarter with a 13-4 burst for a 41-31 advantage with 1:58 left. But a Destiny Smith half-court 3-pointer for Coe at the buzzer cut the margin to 41-39 after three periods. A Jenna Clark (freshman, Story City, Roland-Story HS) 3-pointer capped a five-point run to push Central's advantage back to 46-41 with 8:24 remaining, but the Dutch were limited to one field goal the rest of the way.
"We had a good third quarter and it could have been a lot better, but we just couldn't score in the last half of the quarter and I think that carried over to the fourth quarter," coach Joe Steinkamp said. "The halfcourt shot was a big momentum play for them."
Center Kendall Brown (junior, Moravia) had 12 points, five blocks and five rebounds while Clark added eight points.
"Kendall did a nice job," Steinkamp said. "They started double-teaming her in the second half, but she played with a lot of energy. She did a nice job of controlling the paint."
Steinkamp also liked the floor game from a couple of Central's reserves, freshman guard Bri Smith (Solon) and sophomore forward Sami Craig (Altoona, Southeast Polk HS).
"Bri had three steals and gave us a nice lift off the bench," Steinkamp said. "Sami had some nice drives and rebounded the ball well, too. They both played their best games of the year."
Central was just 1-of-4 from the free throw line. The Dutch shot only 25.0 percent in the fourth quarter and 37.5 percent overall while Coe controlled the boards 42-30. The Kohawks (4-2 overall, 2-1 conference) shot 35.1 percent for the night.
"Our defense was solid," Steinkamp said. "We held them to 35 percent shooting and 52 points, which should be good enough to win."
Central's lack of recent road success hampered the young squad.
"We weren't in any close games on the road last year and I think it showed," Steinkamp said. "You need to be able to experience that so I think this was good for us, even though the outcome wasn't what we wanted."
Central travels to St. Louis Saturday to meet Fontbonne University (Mo.) in a 1 p.m. non-conference game, then takes next week off for fall semester final exams. Fontbonne takes a 2-3 record into a Thursday game with Principia College (Ill.). Central and the Griffins last met in 2016 and the Dutch hold a 2-0 lead in the teams' all-time series.
"We haven't really started preparing for them yet," Steinkamp said. "But we know they're a zone team and we'll have to be ready for that."
Meanwhile, he continues to be encouraged by his team's progress even though it's not yet reflected on the scoreboard.
"I really like our energy and effort," Steinkamp said. "If we continue working hard, we'll get better. There's a lot of fight in this group."