MIAMI SHORES, Fla. - Rachel Kaale posted her first career double-double and Megan Lankford converted a three-point play with 36 seconds left to seal the win as the Simpson women's basketball team held off St. Thomas (Fla.) 51-46 at the Cruzin' Classic on Thursday afternoon.
Kaale scored 12 points and pulled down 10 boards to lead the Storm (9-1) to their eighth straight win, but it didn't come easy.
Simpson led by as much as 16 in the second half, but a rash of turnovers allowed St. Thomas to creep back into the game. St. Thomas pulled within two points twice in the final 3:30, the last coming when a steal led to a Dannisha Pierce layup to make it 48-46 with 0:49 left.
Lankford came up with the big play on the ensuing possession, drawing a foul on Pierce and converting the free throw to give Simpson a 51-46 lead with 0:36 left.
Britney Boland pulled down 11 rebounds, MacKenzie Haupt scored nine points and Lankford finished with eight points. Maddie Muhlenbruck added 10 rebounds, giving Simpson three players with 10-plus boards in a dominating 59-35 effort on the glass.
Pierce scored 21 points with nine steals and seven rebounds for the Bobcats (5-3). Antishia Wright added five steals as part of a defensive effort that created 30 Simpson turnovers.
Simpson led for most of the first half and took a 31-23 lead into halftime on Muhlenbruck's 3-pointer with 0:44 left. That momentum carried into the second half as a layup by Kaale sparked an 8-0 run to start the period. Haupt's fastbreak layup at the 15:04 mark opened up a 41-25 lead.
Pierce almost single-handedly got the Bobcats back into the game, accounting for 11 of the team's next 13 points. She answered Haupt's layup with one of her own, starting a 15-3 run. A Lankford 3 slowed the run, but St. Thomas rattled off seven straight points to pull within 44-40 with 7:34 to play.
Up Next: Simpson returns home to the friendly confines of Cowles Fieldhouse for just the second time this season when it hosts AIB on Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. The game will be free to the public. Simpson won the first matchup 70-42 on Nov. 22 in Des Moines.