DUBUQUE, Iowa – Markayla Mahr's block party will have plenty of company after her 16-foot buzzer beater gave the Simpson women's basketball team a 55-54 win over Dubuque on Wednesday night.
Coincidentally, Mahr's first field goal gave the Storm (11-7, 6-1 Iowa Conference) a 2-0 lead while her second and final field goal sealed the deal. It's not often a team can lay claim to a game-winning defensive specialist (3.36 bpg) who recorded more blocks (five) than points (four).
Halfway thorugh the conference schedule, Simpson sits in second place, just a game behind league-leading Loras. The Storm have won six in a row.
Prior to the winning basket it was a flurry of turnovers and poor shooting that haunted the Storm from the outset. Playing without starting point guard, Brittany Hedrick, they finished the game shooting 32% from the field and committed 25 turnovers, a season-high in conference play.
Despite the offensive drought, the defense stepped up and held the Iowa Conference's highest-scoring team (82.1 ppg) to 54 points on 32% shooting. The leading scorer for the Spartans (11-7, 4-3), Jenna Kotas (15.6 ppg), was held to just 13 points on 6 of 22 shooting.
At the 1:50 mark in the second half Morgan Mauro canned her one-and-only 3-pointer of the game to pull Simpson within two, 53-51. Both teams made a free throw each down the stretch to push the game to 54-52.
Whitney Van Wyk came to the line with two seconds remaining with a chance to tie. She made the first and Simpson claimed the team rebound on her subsequent miss, setting up Mahr's game-winner off the inbounds pass from Terpstra.
The Storm defense tightened down the stretch as Dubuque didn't record a field goal in the last 5:50.
MacKenzie Haupt and Brooke Panzer led the team with nine points each while reigning Iowa Conference Player of the Week Morgan Terpstra narrowly missed out on a double-double with eight points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
Simpson begins the second time through the league slate Saturday when it travels to Decorah to face Luther. The Norse (10-8, 1-6) lost to Buena Vista 75-64 on Wednesday.