Behind a season-high 26 points from Ashley Nekola and a flurry of 3-point baskets, the Central College women's basketball team defeated second-place Buena Vista 82-78 on Wednesday.
Central, just 3-16 overall and 3-9 in Iowa Conference action, was handled easily by the Beavers 101-69 in the league opener November 29 at Storm Lake. But the Dutch placed four players in double figures to drop the Beavers to 12-7 overall and 7-3 in the league.
Katie Maguire scored a game-high 33 points and dished out seven assists for Buena Vista. It was the fourth time this season that Maguire has gone over the 30-point mark in a game. Kelli Staley added 15 points while Tracy Hartwig scored 10.
Nekola hit 12 of 17 shots from the floor and grabbed nine rebounds. Emily De Jong had 18 points and nine boards for the Dutch.
After Buena Vista took a 51-47 halftime lead, the game remained tight most of the second half. Buena Vista was up 68-64 with 10:41 remaining when Central went on a 14-2 run.
"We just couldn't get defensive stops when we needed them," BVU coach Janet Berry said. "We're playing well offensively and shooting the ball well, but we need to play better defense."
Two De Jong free throws with nine seconds left put Central up 82-76 and Maguire scored BV's only bucket of the last 3:41 on an uncontested layup with 2 seconds left.
Buena Vista, which made just one of its last 10 shots, shot 29 of 74 (39 percent) from the field. The Beavers had won five straight meetings with the Dutch.
Berry said her team's goal now is simply get gain the highest seed it can for the Iowa Conference Tournament. It appears winning that tourney will be the Beavers' only chance for a bid to the NCAA Division III national tournament.
Buena Vista will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 4 by hosting Loras College. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.
In other Iowa Conference women's gamed last Wednesday, Cornell edged Coe 59-58, Loras held off Dubuque 67-65 and Luther routed Wartburg 72-44.
In other games this Saturday, Cornell is at Central, Luther is at Dubuque and Wartburg is at Coe.
Simpson leads the IIAC women's basketball standings with a perfect 11-0 mark. BVU and Luther are both 7-3 and Loras is 6-4.