INDIANOLA, Iowa – Brad Bjorkgren had never encountered anything like "the system" before Tuesday night. He wasn't sure how his team would respond to Grinnell's famous, frenetic style of aggressive basketball.
As it turns out, they responded just fine.
The defense stole the show, though. The Storm (2-2) held Grinnell 25 points below its season average, only the second time in the last six seasons the Pioneers were held to 80 points or less during the regular season.
"Our guys did a good job of attacking, and once we starting finishing, they had a hard time keeping up with us," the first-year head coach said.
Simpson shot better than 62 percent from the field in the first half, racing out to a 64-40 lead at the break. The lead ballooned to as many as 32 in the second half as Simpson held the Pioneers (3-2) to just 33.3 percent from the field, including 16-for-49 from 3-point range.
Danny Thomas scored 13 points to lead Grinnell, which came into the game averaging 105.8 points per game, the fourth-highest mark in Division III. Leading scorers Julian Marx and Kyle Parker - who each averaged better than 20 points a game - were held to 10 and three, respectively.
Despite the success his team had against the unorthodox style of play, the speed of the game was still a shock to Bjorkgren.
"It is really frantic," he said. "I don't think you can practice against it. You really don't get how fast it's going to be until you get out there."
Stat of the game: Despite committing a season-high 18 turnovers, Simpson managed to take care of the ball well against the pressing, trapping defense of Grinnell. The Pioneers came into the game leading the nation with 30.75 turnovers forced per game.
It was over when ... A layup by Gretzky with 3:52 left in the first half sparked a 19-5 run to close the period. A 3 by Thomas had just brought Grinnell within 45-35 before Gretzky's lay-in, which started a 10-0 Simpson run.
Up next: Simpson goes to the Rhodes College Tournament in Memphis, Tenn. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 28-29. Simpson opens with Rhodes at 2 p.m. Friday and will play either Wittenberg or Millikin on Saturday.