The Buena Vista men's basketball team tried to overcome its second 17-point, second-half deficit of the season on Wednesday night, but the Beavers came up just short in the end, falling on the road to Central College, 80-78, on Wednesday night.
Thomas Wisecup finished with 18 points for the Beavers on 4-of-5 shooting from downtown and 7-of-10 overall. David Jeffries and Sean Morgan each followed with 14 points while Kennedy Drey scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Beavers were 10-of-18 from downtown in a losing effort while shooting 56.4 percent from the field overall. Free-throws doomed BVU down the stretch yet again, as the team was 6-of-11 for the game, but missed three crucial attempts as it tried to complete the comeback.
BVU was also outrebounded by the Dutch, 34-28, including 15-5 on the offensive end. Central came up with two big offensive boards inside the final minute which secured the win.
BVU got off to a fast start and had a double-digit lead just five minutes into the game. Central, however, responded with a 13-4 spurt over the next three minutes to get right back in it and later took its first lead with under three minutes to play in the first half at 35-33.
Leading 39-35 at the half, the Dutch then scored the first eight points of the second half and were quickly in front by 12. The lead grew to as many as 17 points with six minutes gone by.
BVU then began to light things up from downtown, going 8-of-12 from long range in the second half to help claw itself back into the game. Trailing 79-72, Jeffries came up with a big steal at the 1:30 mark and got out in transition before Colby Taylor was called for an intentional foul as Jeffries was going in for the fastbreak layup. Jeffries, however, missed on both attempts, but Paul Gallagher took the inbounds pass and drilled a three in front of the Beaver bench to make it 79-75 with 1:28 left.
BVU got a defensive stop before Morgan stepped to the line and made 1-of-2 free-throw attempts to make it a 79-76 contest with 45 seconds left. The Beavers forced up a missed shot by Central on the ensuing posession, but the Dutch chalked up one of their 15 offensive boards to force BVU to foul with 12 seconds left.
Central made just 1-of-2 and Drey grabbed the rebound. After the Dutch used their foul-to-give, Morgan made it an 80-78 game with a layup with 7.7 seconds left. Central missed the front-end of another 1-and-1, but wound up with an offensive rebound out of bounce to ultimately secure the win.
Buena Vista has now dropped three straight games for the first time all season and is now one-game back of the IIAC lead with one game remaining. All three of those setbacks are by a combined four points.
The Beavers, now 14-10 overall (10-5 IIAC), will travel to Wartburg College (15-9, 7-8 IIAC) on Saturday afternoon for a 4:00pm contest. The Beavers need a win and Loras loss at home to Nebraska Wesleyan to clinch a share of the IIAC title.