It was an entertaining game from start to finish with the two teams combining for 28 made three-point shots, but in the end it was Buena Vista holding off a late Dutch comeback bid to hand the preseason IIAC favorites a 94-87 loss inside of Siebens Fieldhouse.
The Dutch got a deep three-pointer from Colby Taylor just before the first half buzzer to take a 47-41 lead into halftime. The Beavers, who shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first half, carried over that strong shooting in the second by making 60 percent.
Central shot better than 62 percent overall during the first 20 minutes, but the Beavers picked up the defensive pressure in the second half to hold the Dutch to only 38 percent in the second.
With both teams shooting it well from downtown, the big difference in the game was won by the Beavers at the free-throw line. BVU made 22-of-26 from the charity stripe, while the Dutch only made it to the line 13 times, sinking 11.
BVU scored 17 of the first 26 points of the second half to take a 58-56 lead with 5:00 gone by. After the Dutch tied it at 58-58, Timothy Jeffries gave the Beavers the lead for good with a three-point make and a 61-58 advantage. After Kennedy Drey drilled a three of his own, Jeffries came back with another to make it a 67-61 lead.
It was still a 72-68 BVU lead midway through the half before seven straight points by the Beavers made it an 11-point lead. The Dutch cut the deficit down to five with under 3:00 to go before Thomas Wisecup dilled a big three-pointer to push the lead back to eight.
Central kept chipping away down the stretch, getting within 90-87 with only 13 seconds left but Wisecup calmly stepped to the free-throw line and sank a pair of big free-throws. Central missed on consecutive three-point attempts before Drey grabbed a rebound and hit the game's final two free-throws.
Wisecup led the way for BVU with 19 points, including four long range buckets. Drey followed with 18 points and 13 rebounds. David Jeffries added 17 points, three assists and four steals, while Pau Gallagher went 6-of-6 at the free-throw line and finished with 12 points and five assists.
Timothy Jeffries came off the bench and chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds, as BVU outrebounded the Dutch, 36-21.
Buena Vista improves to 7-6 (3-1 IIAC) as head coach Brian Van Haaften picks up his 390th career win. BVU is tied with Nebraska Wesleyan for the league lead and will look to remain atop the standings when it hosts Wartburg College (11-3, 3-2 IIAC) in an 8:00pm contest.