Amsbaugh, Gretzky lead Storm to 86-78 win at Central

Amsbaugh, Gretzky lead Storm to 86-78 win at Central

PELLA, Iowa – The first 5-plus minutes of Wednesday's game weren't pretty.

The Simpson men's basketball team spotted Central 10 points, missed its first 10 shots and didn't put a tally on the scoreboard until 14:50 remained in the first half.

Things turned around after that.

The inside-outside attack of Dillon Gretzky and Sam Amsbaugh accounted for 56 points as the Storm (12-6, 5-2) erased a 12-point deficit in an 86-78 road win, keeping hold of a share of first place in the Iowa Conference standings.

Amsbaugh scored a career-high 30 points, stepping out to go 5-for-6 from 3-point range while adding seven rebounds. The incomparable Gretzky got to the hoop at will, slashing and scooping his way 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting.

After allowing Central to shoot 68 percent from the field in the first half, Simpson's defense tightened, forcing a 10-for-32 effort in the second half. Colby Taylor, the league's second-leading scorer, managed just 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

Pete Walker had 16 points and Ryan Kunkel blocked six shots to lead the Dutch (12-6, 3-4), who lost their third in a row.

Simpson trailed 45-36 at halftime and a Tate Handsaker 3 to start the second half pushed Central's lead to 12. The lead was nine when Ryan Skaar hit an NBA-range 3-pointer – his only points of the game – to spark an 18-0 run.

Amsbaugh hit a pair of treys during the charge and Tyler Anderson – playing in just his second game of the season – provided a boost with five points, including a 3 from the right wing. A Gretzky lay-in with 9:26 to go gave Simpson a 64-55 lead.

Central went nearly 7 minutes without a field goal before making one more push, pulling within one on two occasions. Simpson answered each challenge, the final dagger coming from a fadeaway jumper by Gretzky on the left baseline with 5:40 left.

Midway through the conference schedule, Simpson is tied with preseason favorite Dubuque atop the league standings. The two teams will play for sole possession of first place on Saturday in Dubuque.

Notes: Amsbaugh's 30-point effort is the first by a Simpson player since the 2013-14 season when Gretzky scored 32 against Grinnell on Dec. 14 … Central's Taylor came into the game averaging more than 22 points per game … for the 18th-straight game, Simpson committed less turnovers than its opponent (22-13).

Up next: Saturday, Jan. 30 at Dubuque. The Spartans (12-6, 5-2) beat Loras 81-66 on Wednesday. Dubuque won the first meeting 74-64 in Indianola.