Storm roll to big win over Westminster as Ambaugh reaches 1,000-point milestone

Sam Amsbaugh eclipsed 1,000 career points on Wednesday, Nov. 16 in the Storm's 83-61 win over Westminster. (photo by Austin Hronich)
Sam Amsbaugh eclipsed 1,000 career points on Wednesday, Nov. 16 in the Storm's 83-61 win over Westminster. (photo by Austin Hronich)

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Conor Riordan scored a game-high 23 points in his first career start, Sam Amsbaugh added 22 to reach a major career milestone and the Simpson men's basketball team led from wire-to-wire in an 83-61 win over Westminster in the season-opener Wednesday night at Cowles Fieldhouse.

Simpson scored the first 11 points of the game and never looked back, jumping out to a 17-point lead in less than 6 minutes. The Storm (1-0) shot better than 53 percent from the field and went 14-for-26 from 3-point range.

Entering the game needing just five points to reach 1,000 for his career, Amsbaugh hit the mark with his free throw at the 8:31 mark in the first half. The senior went on to put together the type of game Storm fans are accustomed to seeing, adding eight rebounds and going 7-for-15 from the field.

Kobe Wands finished with 22 points to lead the Bluejays (0-1), who were picked to win the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Westminster returns three starters from last year's team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

Turning Points
• Simpson was off and running from the opening tip as Kyle Wagner hit a 3 on the Storm's first possession and the Storm led the rest of the way. Simpson made its first five shots and opened the game with three-straight 3s, the second two coming from Riordan. Ben Rajewski's lay-in with 14:32 to play in the first gave Simpson a 19-2 lead. Simpson's advantage didn't drop below 11 the rest of the way.

• Leading 44-25 at halftime, Simpson came out strong to start the second half, eliminating any chance of a Bluejay comeback. Amsbaugh hit a runner in the lane to start the frame, scoring six quick points as part of a 12-5 run that grew the lead to 26 with 16 minutes to play. Riordan and Rajewski hit 3s during the stretch.

Key Players
Conor Riordan — 23 points, 3 assists, 5-6 3-pointers
Sam Amsbaugh — 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 8-10 free throws
Ben Rajewski — 14 points, 5-6 FGs, 3-4 3-pointers
Aaron Hauser — 12 points, 4-4 3-pointers
Taylor Filbert — 5 points, 11 rebounds

Coach Speak
"He finds a way to get the ball in the basket. He's worked very hard during his four years, and this is just game one. I'm sure he'll pass some guys along the way, but it's quite an honor to be one of the top-20 scorers in Simpson basketball history." — head coach Brad Bjorkgren on Sam Amsbaugh reaching the 1,000-point milestone.

Notes
• Simpson improves to 5-1 in its last six regular season home games.
• The Storm are 64-50 all-time in season-openers and 3-0 under Brad Bjorkgren.
• The win gives Simpson a 2-1 lead in the all-time series with Westminster.
• The 14 3-pointers made are the team's most since also hitting 14 against Graceland on Nov. 16, 2015, Brad Bjorkgren's first game as head coach. Simpson shot 53.8 percent from beyond the arc, the highest mark (minimum 10 makes) since going 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) against Upper Iowa on Jan. 30, 2004.
• Amsbaugh becomes the 20th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark and first since Charles Swain in 2015. Amsbaugh now ranks 19th in school history with 1,017 career points, and needs just 140 to crack the top-10.
• A sophomore, Riordan is averaging 20.5 points over his last two games after closing last season with an 18-point performance in an IIAC Tournament loss to Central. He averaged 4.5 points in the first 19 games of his freshman season.

Up Next
Simpson will play Bethel (Minn.) on Friday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. in the first round of the Carroll Pioneer Tip-Off Classic in Waukesha, Wis. The game will be the first for the Royals, who went 21-7 and earned the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17.