Valiant comeback effort falls short against defending champions

Kyle Wagner
Kyle Wagner

INDIANOLA, Iowa -- The Simpson men's basketball team overcame a 17-point deficit against the defending national champions, but in the end Nate Bahe and top-ranked Nebraska Wesleyan prevailed 96-84 on Wednesday at Cowles Fieldhouse.

Bahe scored 39 points and Cooper Cook had 25 for the Prairie Wolves (14-0, 5-0 American Rivers), who extended their winning streak to 27 games.

Kyle Wagner had a career-high 29 points and Adam Reiter finished with 14 and seven rebounds for the Storm (9-5, 3-3). The last team to beat Nebraska Wesleyan, Simpson looked like it had the makings of an upset midway through the second half.

A 3-pointer by Taylor Filbert with 10:56 to play gave the Storm a 65-64 lead, the latest any American Rivers team has led Nebraska Wesleyan this season. But after a 3 by Bahe and a jumper by Tyler Stumbo made it 67-67, the Prairie Wolves scored 14 unanswered to take an 81-67 lead with 5 minutes to play.

Simpson pulled back to within four on Reiter's layup with 2:38 left, but a 9-0 run by Nebraska Wesleyan put the game away.

Wagner almost single-handedly kept Simpson in the game in the first half, scoring 24 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He went 4-for-9 from beyond the arc and set a career-high in points for the second game in a row.

Nebraska Wesleyan led 39-22 with 9:41 left in the first half when Simpson responded with a 16-5 run. A short jumper by Reiter made it 49-43 at halftime.

Bahe went 13-for-16 from the field and 6-for-8 from 3-point range for the Prairie Wolves.

GAME NOTES

Simpson tied a school record by going a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line … the Storm are shooting 84 percent (58-for-69) from the charity stripe over the last four games … John Barbee filled the stat sheet with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals … Filbert finished with 11 points and four assists … Simpson was looking for a second home win over a nationally-ranked opponent this season after beating No. 10 Wis.-Platteville on Nov. 20.

UP NEXT

Simpson has the weekend off before returning to action Wednesday, Jan. 16 at Central. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. in Pella.