The Duhawks’ postseason aspirations were cut short last week as Luther edged them out for the sixth and final playoff spot.
Due to struggles in conference play earlier in the season, the Duhawks needed a strong showing in their last two conference games to stay alive.
Last Wednesday, the Duhawks went on the road to face Central. The Duhawks were down early after a quick nine point run from the Dutch, but were able to regain control to close out the half with a 31-28 lead.
After a back-and-forth second half, the teams were tied at 52 with 7:43 remaining in the game. That’s when the Dutch caught fire.
Central went on a 22-11 run to close out the game and defeated the Duhawks, 74-61, putting an end to any post-season aspirations for Loras.
Senior Nathaniel Smith led the Duhawks with 19 points and seven rebounds. Junior Mirko Grcic added 9 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
Last Saturday, the Duhawks played their game of the season against Simpson in Indianola. Loras came out and took control of the game early, shutting down the Storm offense and utilizing their missed shots and creating scoring opportunities to give the Duhawks a 39-31 lead at half.
Grcic scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the second half to keep the pressure on for the Duhawks. With a minute to play, the seniors took the court together one final time, ending their careers with an 89-71 win over the Storm and getting their first conference win on the road.
Smith and senior Aaron Schueller each chipped in with 17 points in the win.
With their season over, the Duhawks will say goodbye to five seniors: Nathaniel Smith, Aaron Schueller, Bobby Harmening, Luke Barry, and Regan Takes.
“Our seniors were always the rock of this team,” said Head Coach Greg Gorton. “However, as they graduate there is an energy to see what the returning players can do in the off-season to prepare. We return a nice core of experience, but I would say it’s unproven. It’s completely up to us how good we will be going forward.”
After a season derailed by injuries, the Duhawks have reason for optimism moving forward.
“We lacked consistency,” Gorton said. “There were games we were good defensively then bad the next game. The same happened on offense. I like our team coming back. We have the pieces to compete, and we have to prove we are capable.”
The Duhawks finished the season seventh in the Iowa Conference behind Luther, who claimed the sixth and final tournament bid last week with a win over Wartburg.
Looking ahead to next season, the Duhawks will rely on returning starters Mirko Grcic and Justin Schneider to provide senior leadership. Sophomores Justin VanWambeke, Danny Quinn and Domonique Criss are a few of the emerging underclassmen who will look to assume larger roles on the team.