NEW ULM - Martin Luther College men's basketball coach Jim Unke knew that his young team was going to take its lumps during the months of November and December playing against tough nonconference competition.
On Friday night, the Knights trailed by four points against Central at halftime and it looked like they were going to have a shot at their second win of the season. They cut the Central lead to 53-52 on a 3-pointer by Austin Eisenmann with 12 minutes left in the game, but the Dutch didn't allow another MLC field goal for almost nine minutes in the 82-58 win.
The loss was a tough pill to swallow for MLC (1-7) after beating St. John's on Monday. On Friday, the Knights watched the Dutch close the game on a 29-6 run during the last 12 minutes.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Joshua Dannell (14) takes a shot over Matt Greenfield of Central College during the first half Friday at MLC in New Ulm.
"If you compare tonight's game with the last two against Bethel and St. John's, we were not focused and we didn't have the adrenaline," Unke said. "They were no way 24 points better than we were, we just were out of sync. In the first half, we were fortunate enough to be down by four and in the second half, it just got worse.
"I was disappointed, but I believe that happens with young teams," Unke continued. "We kind of lost our focus, and the nice thing is that we get to play [today]."
Galen Holzhueter continued his hot play for the Knights, scoring a game-high 21 on Friday. He also grabbed six rebounds.
Eisenmann provided a spark off the bench. The freshman scored 13 points, including nine points from beyond the arc. Luke Rothe, another freshman, scored 10 points.
"He's only going to get better," Unke said of Eisenmann. "We have a bunch of freshman players [eight on the roster] and every second we can get them on the floor, it just increases our depth. Once we get to the [Upper Midwest Athletic Conference] season, Austin is a kid that plays really confident and we're looking for really good things from him."
The Knights didn't exactly come out on fire in the first half, hitting only 32 percent of their shots. But they were able to keep it close until midway through the second half.
After Eisenmann's 3 cut the Central lead to one point, the Dutch got a pair of 3s by Nick Marinkovich that stretched the lead to 59-52. Later, a basket by Jacob Winkler made it a 10-point game (63-53) and the lead continued to grow as the Knights couldn't hit a basket to stop the run.
The Dutch spread the offense around with five players scoring in double figures. Matt Greenfield and Branden Stubbs led the way with 17 points each and Winkler had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Kaerwer (13 points) and Marinkovich (12 points) also scored in double figures.
The Knights now have to put this loss behind them as they travel to Wartburg for a 4 p.m. game today.