Riordan’s career night not enough in first-round loss to Central

Freshman guard Conor Riordan
Freshman guard Conor Riordan

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Conor Riordan came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points but Central opened the second half strong and never looked back, handing the Simpson men's basketball team a 76-66 loss Tuesday in the first round of the Iowa Conference Tournament.

Colby Taylor and Pete Walker each scored 12 of their 14 points in the second half for the fifth-seeded Dutch (15-11), who used a 23-6 run in the first 8 minutes to break open a one-point game. 

Simpson trailed by as many as 16 before a Sam Amsbaugh 3-pointer sparked a 12-2 run, cutting the deficit to six. Sabonis Smith's layup with 8:10 to play made it 59-53, but that's as close it would get. 

A 3 by Nick Drucker and a layup by Austin Glawe pushed the lead back to double figures and Simpson couldn't mount another run.

Amsbaugh finished with 15 points, Austin Turner and Ryan Skaar added 13 apiece and DJ Dafney pulled down 11 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Storm (16-10). 

Riordan provided a spark off the bench in the first half for the Storm, who trailed by 10 with 6:23 to play before halftime. The freshman turned the game around when he hit the first of his four 3s, triggering a 16-7 run in the final 4:06. He scored 13 points during the run, going 5-for-5 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Riordan finished 7-for-8 from the field and 4-for-4 from 3-point range.

Amsbaugh gave Simpson a short-lived 33-32 lead on the first possession of the second half. Malik Wildermuth hit the go-ahead 3 on the next trip down the floor and Central led the rest of the way.

• Simpson seniors Austin Turner, Brook Thompson, DJ Dafney, Ryan Skaar, Cody Good and Cort Singleton all took the floor for the final time Tuesday. The group was a crucial part of a turnaround that flipped a 10-40 record during their first two seasons to 31-21 and two trips to the IIAC Tournament over the last two seasons. 

• Amsbaugh closes his junior season with 995 career points. He is looking to become the 20th member of Simpson's 1,000-point club.

• Despite the first-round exit, Simpson managed to post back-to-back 15-win seasons for the first time in 18 years under second-year head coach Brad Bjorkgren.

• Central snapped a four-game losing streak in the series and advances to play top-seeded Nebraska Wesleyan in the semifinals on Thursday.