Central College transformed a fifth-place Iowa Conference finish into the school’s second men’s basketball league tournament title and NCAA Division III berth in the past three seasons.
Without a senior on the roster, the Dutch, 19-10, became the first squad in league tournament history to win three consecutive road games and capture the tourney crown. It was Central’s 11th NCAA tournament berth overall, the most of any conference school, and the second under fourth-year coach Craig Douma.
Central, which made two trips to Dubuque in the final four days of the regular season, made two more the following week, getting an 84-79 win at fourth-seeded Loras, then knocking off regular-season champion Dubuque 72-61. Central captured the crown with a 92-80 triumph at second-seeded Wartburg.
The Dutch got the short straw in the NCAA tournament draw, traveling to St. Paul, Minnesota to tackle eventual national champion St. Thomas. After battling to a 30-30 halftime tie, foul trouble and a lack of size hurt Central in the second half of a 78-66 loss.
Junior forward Colby Taylor earned all-conference and all-region honors for the second time. He posted 12 double-doubles, averaging 20.2 points and 9.5 rebounds. He already ranks eighth on Central’s career scoring charts with 1,296 points. Junior guard Pete Walker was a second-team all-league pick.