Head coach Craig Carlson and the Iowa Central women's basketball team were left breathing a deep sigh of relief here Wednesday.
Despite being pushed to the limit for most of the second half, the 16th-ranked (NJCAA Div. II) Tritons (25-4 overall, 12-3 in the league) managed to pull out a crucial 74-64 ICCAC home triumph over Des Moines Area on White Out Night at Hodges Fieldhouse.
With the victory, Iowa Central has now posted 25 wins or more in five straight seasons.
"Of all the games I've coached (at Iowa Central), this was probably one of our biggest gut checks," said Carlson, whose squad avenged an early-season 80-65 setback to the Bears. "It was huge for us to get this (win) to stay in the second seed (for next week's Region XI Tournament). I was thrilled with the effort by our kids."
Alison Nagel (St. Edmond) sparked the balanced Triton assault with a game-high 20 points - her sixth consecutive outing with at least 20 points.
Lauren Christianson (Manson Northwest Webster) also contributed 16 points and three steals for Iowa Central, while Rebekah Rolling (North Sentral Kossuth) notched 15 points and 10 rebounds and Mika Rodewald (Manson Northwest Webster) added 14 points to her program-best scoring mark. Rodewald, who suffered an undisclosed eye injury late in the second half last night before eventually returning to the court, has now tallied 1,176 points in her career. Rolling (810) and Nagel (789) rank 13th and 15th, respectively, as well on the all-time Triton scoring list.
IOWA CENTRAL 74, DMACC 64
Iowa Central - Morgan Markert 0-1 0-0 0, Rebekah Rolling 6-9 3-4 15, Lauren Christianson 7-9 1-2 16, Mika Rodewald 6-10 2-4 14, Alison Nagel 9-16 1-4 20, Allison Seibert 0-0 0-0 0, Lauren Bengen 0-1 5-6 5, Carly McRae 1-3 2-4 4, Rebecca Easton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-49 14-24 74.
DMACC - Sam Thrapp 4-11 6-8 17, Ann Walker 1-3 0-0 3, Ashley Hagedorn 2-11 1-4 7, Jordan Wood 3-9 1-2 7, Joscelyn Coleman 4-10 7-10 15, Maci Robeoltman 2-4 2-2 6, Carrie Wood 0-4 0-0 0, Lacy Stevenson 1-6 0-0 3, Kelsey Coots 0-0 2-2 2, Kelsey Fynaardt 2-5 0-0 4. Totals: 19-63 19-28 64.
Halftime score: Iowa Central led 39-27. Three-point goals: Iowa Central 2-8 (Markert 0-1, Rolling 0-2, Christianson 1-1, Nagel 1-3, Bengen 0-1); DMACC 7-28 (Thrapp 3-7, Walker 1-3, Hagedorn 2-9, J. Wood 0-2, C. Wood 0-1, Stevenson 1-6). Total rebounds: Iowa Central 33, DMACC 32. Turnovers: Iowa Central 20, DMACC 15. Total fouls: Iowa Central 19, DMACC 23. Fouled out: Markert.
"I thought Christianson had one of her better all-around games (Wednesday)," Carlson said. "They were double and triple teaming Rodewald inside, so that opened up things for some other people. Carly McRae also came in and gave us some quality minutes off the bench."
After reeling off a furious 25-7 spurt to start the contest, Iowa Central then watched DMACC (21-7, 10-5) answer back with a 14-3 run of its own, closing the gap to 39-27 at the break.
"It's always dangerous when you get up by so many points early on, because then you have a tendency to just relax," said Carlson. "We knew they'd eventually make a run at us."
Still within striking distance, the Bears registered 25 of the first 38 points of the second half to deadlock (52-52) the contest with 7:49 remaining. Hardly fazed, the Tritons sealed the deal with a 22-12 knockout punch in crunch time.
"DMACC is a completely different team from us in that they like to play outside-inside as opposed to inside-outside," Carlson said. " We played with more of a sense of urgency (last night) and were much better on the defensive end than the first time we faced them."
Iowa Central shot a red-hot 29-for-49 from the field compared to only 19 of 63 for the Bears, who fell out of this week's Top-20 poll after previously being ranked 12th.
Sam Thrapp (17) and Joscelyn Coleman (15) combined for exactly half of DMACC's point total.
The Tritons can officially clinch a second-seed in the Region XI Tournament Saturday at Southeastern (24-4, 11-3). Start time for the regular-season finale is set for 2 p.m. in Keokuk.
Contact Josh Meyer at (515) 573-2141, or by e-mail at email@example.com