LINCOLN, Neb. -- In the American Rivers Conference Tournament Semifinals, the fourth-seeded Simpson men's basketball team nearly pulled off an epic comeback against top-seeded Nebraska Wesleyan, but lost 85-80 on Thursday.
The Prairie Wolves (25-1) connected on 64.5 percent of their shots in the first half and drilled 13 3-pointers to take a 20-point advantage into halftime at 56-36.
The Storm (16-10) shot well in the first 20 minutes of play and went 6 of 11 from deep and shot 52 percent from the floor.
After going down by 23 just under the 17-minute mark, Simpson went on a 12-0 run to trim the deficit to 11. The Storm used a balanced attack by making two triples and three deuces. John Barbee had six points to help trim the lead.
Nebraska Wesleyan was able to extend the advantage back to 15 points at 66-51 with 11 minutes to play. Over the next four-plus minutes of action, Simpson went on a 17-5 spurt to draw with three with less than six minutes to go.
Simpson would close the gap to two at 72-70 after a made basket from Adam Reiter. The defending national champions outscored the Storm 8-0 over the next two minutes to take a 10-point lead at the 1:50 mark left in the game.
Barbee and Kyle Wagner connected on back-to-back treys at the one-minute spot, but the Prairie Wolves' defense would toughen to hang on.
The Storm shot 49.2 percent overall and 41.9 percent from three, while making 9 of 12 free throws. Nebraska Wesleyan exploded for 15 triples and made 49.1 percent of its shots, but went 14 of 26 from the charity stripe.
Conor Riordan led the squad with 21 points and three assists. Reiter finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 boards. Barbee and Wagner each had 12 points, with Taylor Filbert filling the statsheet with 11 points off the bench.
Jack Hiller had 19 points for the Prairie Wolves and Nate Bahe had 17.
Riordan comes up 11 points shy of the 1,000-career point club for Simpson. The team has tallied double figures in three-pointers made in 16 games this year. Reiter finished five rebounds short of 200 for the season and leads the league with a 7.5 average per game.