Simpson begins the second half of its Iowa Conference slate when it travels to face the Dubuque Spartans in the second meeting of the year between these two teams.
Matchup: Simpson (11-7, 4-3), Dubuque (6-12, 1-6)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 30
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Stoltz Sports Center - Dubuque, Iowa
Last time out
Simpson trailed Central 27-26 at the half but 17 points from Mackenzie Haupt, a double-double from Noreen Morrow and a bench that outscored Central's 41-4 propelled Simpson to a 65-54 win on Wednesday. The Storm used a 10-0 run in the final 2:06 of the third quarter to pull ahead 47-38. Ashley Dalsing hit two 3s during the run that proved to be the decisive blow. Morgan Mauro only went 1-of-7 from the field but her only field goal was her 154th 3-pointer of her career, making her third all-time in Simpson history.
A look at Dubuque
Dubuque, picked seventh in the Iowa Conference preseason coaches poll, is tied with Central for last place in the IIAC at 1-6. The conference's second-leading scorer, Emily Brinker, averages 16.9 ppg to lead a Spartan attack that is sixth in the league at 66.8 ppg. The Spartans' armor has been cracked often on defense though, allowing 74.4 ppg on 1,287 opponent field goal attempts, both of which are last in the IIAC. Dubuque also relies on sophomore Abby Meyer for production. She leads the league in minutes played per game, 34.7 mpg, and is seventh in the IIAC in scoring at 13.9 ppg.
Saturday marks the 73rd meeting in the all-time series that began in 1980-81. Simpson leads the series 65-7, but is only 4-3 in the last seven. The Storm won 80-53 in the first meeting of the season.
1. Feed the post
Simpson's three predominant scorers in the post, Noreen Morrow, Katie Ahrenholtz and Britney Boland, all factor in heavily in Simpson's wins. Morrow averages 5.0 more ppg in wins, Ahrenholtz 3.0 ppg and Boland 2.4 for an average of +10.4 ppg of production from the trio in Simpson's 11 wins. Essentially, the play in the post has factored much more heavily than at the guard position in wins this year. Simpson's three-main scoring guards in Maddie Bosworth, Mackenzie Haupt and Morgan Mauro combine to average +0.2 more points per game in Simpson's wins this year.
2. Defensive stalwarts
Simpson's defense has been solid this season, allowing 62.6 ppg, good for third in the conference. Additionally, the Storm have only allowed a team to score over 80 points once this season and have kept teams to 60 points or fewer nine different times. This performance can be partially chalked up to the fact that Simpson is the only team in the league to have three players in the top ten in both blocks and steals. Mackenzie Haupt, Whitney Van Wyk and Maddie Bosworth are all in the top five in steals with at least 32. Van Wyk, Annie Gullickson and Boland are eight, nine and 10 in the league in blocked shots. Van Wyk leads the team with 0.9 bpg.
3. Simpson's shooting streak
You'll have to go way back to find a game in which Simpson didn't make at least one 3-pointer. The Storm women have made at least one 3-pointer in 234 straight games, dating all the way back to a 70-61 win over Albright College on Dec. 28, 2007 when they went 0-of-13 from behind the arc. This season Simpson has averaged 6.4 3s per game and are led by Morgan Mauro who has made 31. Mauro made her 154th 3-pointer of her career on Wednesday, moving her into sole possession of third place in Simpson's all-time 3-point list.
4. Vital first half
Getting out to a good start has been key for Simpson this year, and leading at the half has been extremely indicative of the final score. When either ahead or tied at halftime, Simpson is 10-1 this season and only 1-6 when it trails at the break. Simpson's only win when trailing at halftime came on Wednesday when it was down 27-26 to the Central Dutch before outscoring them 39-24 in the second half.
5. Stars not needed
Simpson has proved that a standout scorer isn't needed to win games. The Storm are the only team without at least one player in the top 10 in the IIAC in scoring, with Noreen Morrow's 11.8 ppg being tied for 12th. Instead, Simpson has three players who average double-figures, with Mackenzie Haupt (11.0 ppg) and Maddie Bosworth (11.2 ppg) joining Morrow. Six different players have at least tied for a game-high in points for a game this year (Morrow, Bosworth, Haupt, Mauro, Ahrenholtz and Whitney Van Wyk).
Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 546-225. 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 331 victories.
Simpson kicks off a two-game homestand when it hosts Wartburg at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at Cowles Fieldhouse.