INDIANOLA, Iowa - Allison Emrich made the go-ahead layup with 41 seconds left and Wartburg held on to beat the Simpson women's basketball team 55-54 in the first round of the Iowa Conference Tournament on Tuesday night.
Alyssa Sager scored 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and Emrich scored nine off the bench for the No. 5 seed Knights (12-14), who advance to play top-seeded Loras in the semifinals on Thursday.
Brittany Hedrick scored 12 of her 18 points in the second half to lead the No. 4 seed Storm (14-12), who trailed by as many as 12 in the first half after shooting less than 13 percent from the field. Maddie Muhlenbruck scored 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc and Morgan Terpstra had eight points and 14 rebounds.
Emrich's layup gave Wartburg a 53-52 lead before Hedrick got a good look at a 3 from the right wing with 30 seconds left. The shot went in-and-out, but Terpstra corralled the offensive board and drew a foul on the put-back attempt. The senior missed both free throws, however, putting Simpson in a must-foul situation.
Holly Hallstead made two free throws, extending the lead to 55-52 with 21 seconds left. Hedrick missed a deep two on the ensuing possession, but Simpson had another chance to tie with 6 seconds left after a pair of missed free throws by Wartburg.
Hedrick brought the ball down the floor and was fouled just before attempting a 3 with exactly 1 second left. She made the first half of the one-and-one and rimmed in the second despite trying to miss in order to have a tip-in attempt. Wartburg was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock, snapping a 14-game losing streak at Cowles Fieldhouse in the process.
It is just the third home loss Simpson has suffered in the 15-year history of the conference tournament.
What ended up being a great back-and-forth affair didn't start out that way.
After Muhlenbruck's first 3 of the game tied the score 5-5, Wartburg mounted a 12-0 run. Simpson's next field goal didn't come until 6 minutes and 45 seconds later, as the Storm shot just 4-for-31 in the half.
The second half was a different story.
Down 20-14 at the break, Simpson came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders. Whitney Van Wyk got a steal, a layup and converted the 3-point play to spark a 12-0 run that gave Simpson a 26-20 lead before Wartburg's first bucket of the half at the 17:07 mark.
Treys by Hedrick and Muhlenbruck gave Simpson a 35-29 lead as it looked like Simpson would seize control, but Emrich responded with an and-one to pull Wartburg back within three.