The games: The Simpson women's basketball team opens Iowa Conference play this week with a pair of road games. The Storm travel to Buena Vista for a 6 p.m. start Wednesday and go to Coe for a 2 p.m. start Saturday.
Live coverage: Live video and live stats will be available for both games this week. Saturday's game will be broadcast live on KNIA 1320 AM/95.3 FM or heard online at www.kniakrls.com. Veteran broadcaster Rick Wilson will have the call.
Setting the stage: The Storm have won three in a row and 6 of 7 after a 1-3 start. Picked fifth in the IIAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, Simpson has hopes of breaking a two-year conference title drought after winning six in a row.
A look at Buena Vista: The Beavers went 6-5 in the non-conference slate and are coming off a 74-64 win at Saint Benedict on Jan. 3. Returning second team all-IIAC guard Lexi Fisher and junior center Jasmyn Flynn-Graves lead the conference's No. 2 offense with 13.5 ppg apiece. Fisher and guard Sidney Beckman each have 28 3s on the season for a team that likes to launch it from deep. The Beavers lead the league with more than 28 3-point attempts per game.
Wednesday's game marks the 76th meeting in a series that dates back to the 1976-77 season. Simpson leads the series 47-28, including sweeping both meetings in 2014-15. The Storm won 62-54 at home and 77-53 in Storm Lake. The Storm have one nine of the last 10.
A look at Coe: The Kohawks closed the non-conference slate 9-2 and ride a four-game winning streak going into their IIAC-opener against Loras. First-year head coach Nate Oakland oversees the league's top offense, averaging 75.6 ppg. Two-time IIAC Player of the Week Aleena Hobbs and one-time player of the week Mickey Hansche rank 1-2 in the league in scoring, with Hobbs averaging 20.3 ppg and Hansche pouring in 16.6 ppg. Coe leads the league and ranks fourth in the nation with 109 3-pointers, led by Hansche with 41 (second in DIII).
Saturday's game marks the 51st meeting in a series that dates back to the 1977-78 season. Simpson leads the all-time series 40-10, but Coe has won four in a row including three last season. Coe swept the regular season meetings and beat the Storm 70-64 in the first round of the IIAC Tournament. Simpson won 33 of the first 34 games in the series, but the Kohawks are 9-7 since the 2009-10 season.
Last time out: Simpson went 2-0 at the Puerto Rico College Tours Tournament over break, beating Coast Guard 57-46 and Lebanon Valley 54-53. Noreen Morrow made two free throws with one second left to give the Storm a one-point win over LVC and increase their winning streak to three.
Early season turnaround: After a slow start to the season, Simpson is righting in the ship. The Storm started the year 1-3, but have won six of their last seven, including three in a row. Simpson is holding opponents to just 60.0 ppg during the stretch and is shooting 43 percent from the field.
Bosworth comes into her own: One of the biggest reasons for the Storm's recent turnaround has been the play of senior point guard, Maddie Bosworth. She is averaging a team-high 12 ppg and has 23 assists to just 16 turnovers in the last seven games. She had just 12 assists and 12 turnovers in the first four games. She leads the team with 12.1 ppg and is shooting better than 51 percent from the field.
Second quarter push: The Storm have been especially tough in the second quarter of recent games. In the last seven contests, Simpson is outscoring its opponents 125-93 in the second period, just over 4.5 ppg. Opponents have actually outscored Simpson in the first and fourth quarters.
Mauro climbs 3-point list: Morgan Mauro is making her way up Simpson's career 3-point list. The senior is currently fourth all-time with 144 3s, just nine shy of tying Tiffany Whitsell (1999-03) for third. She has 21 through 11 games this season, currently tied for fifth in the IIAC. Amy Hamilton (2007-11) holds Simpson's career record with 241 3s, followed by Carlie Beals (2004-008) with 236.
Thieves: Simpson boasts three of the top four defensive players in the league in terms of steals. Senior guard Mackenzie Haupt is the IIAC leader with 30 steals in eight games, six more than teammate Maddie Bosworth, who is tied for second. Whitney Van Wyk has 23 steals, good for fourth in the league. Haupt has already matched her previous career-high in steals, set last season.
Morrow becoming a force in the paint: After seeing limited action during an injury-plagued freshman season, sophomore Noreen Morrow has provided a much-needed post presence for the Storm in 2015-16. The 6-2 center is averaging 9.9 ppg and a team-high 5.8 rpg while leading the team with a 57.9 shooting percentage. She has two double-doubles on the year.
The coach: Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 542-222. He has won 11 IIAC Championships and has led his team to the NCAA Tournament 11 times. The seven-time IIAC Coach of the Year entered the season ranked 10th among active Division III coaches. He is the winningest coach in IIAC history with 329 victories.