WAVERLY, Iowa - The Simpson women's basketball team looks to make it four straight wins when it faces the Wartburg Knights at Levick Arena on Wednesday, Jan, 20. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. from Waverly.
Matchup: Simpson (10-5, 3-1) at Wartburg (12-3, 2-2)
Date: Wednesday, January 20
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Levick Arena - Waverly, Iowa
Live Video: Go-Knights.net
Last Time Out
The Storm improved to 5-0 at home thanks to a balanced attack in an 80-53 route of Dubuque on Saturday. Four players posted double-digit scoring performances, led by 13 points each from Mackenzie Haupt and Noreen Morrow. Simpson gained the lead for good on a Haupt layup with 2:45 left in the 1st quarter as the Storm won their second-straight by at least 27.
A look at Wartburg
Wartburg is 12-3 overall and 2-2 in the Iowa Conference entering Wednesday night. Picked No. 2 in the Iowa Conference preseason poll, the Knights were ranked as high as No. 13 nationally following a 10-game winning streak between Nov. 29 and Jan. 29 before suffering back-to-back losses against Luther and Buena Vista. The Knights are fueled by a well-rounded offense that features four players averaging double-figures, led by senior Kailey Kladivo (15.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg). Point guard Katie Sommers is the table-setter, dishing out a league-best 4.3 apg to accompany her 11.7 ppg clip. The Knights lead the IIAC in scoring defense (59.3 ppg), scoring margin (+13.7), field goal percentage (46%), field goal percentage defense (35%), 3-point field goal percentage (40%) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (27%). Wartburg is 6-0 at home.
Wednesday marks the 81st meeting in a series that dates back to 1976-77. Simpson leads the all-time series 52-28 and had won six in a row before the going 1-2 in the last three. The teams split last year's series, with each winning on the other's home floor. Simpson beat Wartburg 77-70 on Jan. 17 in Waverly and Wartburg beat Simpson 75-59 on Jan. 31 in Indianola.
Top 5 Storm Storylines
Since the calendar turned to January, the Simpson offense has heated up, scoring 74.5 points per game across four games, 14.3 more points per game than its average from five games in December. Part of this spike in production is due to Simpson's outside shooting, which is at a season-high 41.6 percent (32 of 77), a number which would be a league-best if it were across the whole season.
2. Empty the bench
Head coach Brian Niemuth has been able to keep his players fresh this year. Thus far 16 different players have earned minutes for the Storm, 10 of which average at least 11.3 mpg. In Simpson's win over Dubuque on Saturday, not one player played more than 21 minutes, with Katie Ahrenholtz's 20 minutes nearly being a game-high. Simpson doesn't have a player in the conference top-10 in mpg, a testament to its depth.
3. Playing like there is no "To-Morrow"
The sophomore slump curse certainly hasn't applied to Noreen Morrow. Rather, it's been much more of a sophomore surge for the 6-2 center. Morrow, who played in only 10 games last year, averaging just 1.3 ppg, has scored in double figures seven straight games, including a 24-point performance against Loras and a 21-point night against Coe. Her 18.3 points per game in IIAC play is third-best in the league and she is tied for first with 4.3 offensive rebounds per game.
4. Mauro climbs 3-point list
Senior guard Morgan Mauro continues her ascent up Simpson's all-time 3-point field goal list. After going 2 of 4 from deep on Saturday, Mauro has 149 career 3s, four shy of tying Tiffany Whitsell (153 3s from 1999-2003) for third all-time. Her 26 3s are good for ninth in the IIAC, making up 27 percent of all of Simpson's 3s this year. Amy Hamilton (2007-11) holds Simpson's career record with 241 3s, followed by Carlie Beals (2004-008) with 236.
5. Thieves of Three
With 37 steals on the season, senior guard Mackenzie Haupt has already past her career-season high of 30 steals set last year. She isn't the only one who has caught the bug though, as Maddie Bosworth and Whitney Van Wyk have 30 and 31 steals respectively, good for at least 2.0 steals per game. As a result, Simpson finds itself second in the league in steals at 10.0 per game. Haupt is tied for the IIAC lead with 2.5 steals per game, while Van Wyk is tied for third and Bosworth tied for fifth.
Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 545-223. 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 in wins. He is the winningest coach in IIAC history with 330 victories.
The Storm return to Indianola when they host first place Luther (NR/RV) at Cowles Fieldhouse on Saturday, January 23. The opening tip-off is set for 2 p.m.