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.
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.