INDIANOLA, Iowa - The Simpson women look to make it three straight wins and repay Wartburg for a 59-56 loss to the Knights on Jan. 20 when they host the Knights on Wednesday night.
Matchup: Wartburg (13-6, 3-5) at Simpson (12-7, 5-3)
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 3
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Cowles Fieldhouse - Indianola, Iowa
Last time out
Noreen Morrow and Britney Boland each posted double-doubles as Simpson survived some tense moments late to beat Dubuque 76-62 on Saturday, its second win in a row. Morrow had 20 points and 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double and Boland went for 12 and 10 for her first double-double. Simpson led by 23 with under 5 minutes left in the third, but the Spartans pulled within 58-53 on a 3-point play by Taylor Burdette with 6:54 left in the fourth.
A look at Wartburg
Since defeating Simpson on Jan. 20, Wartburg has been on a three-game skid, losing to Loras, Coe and Buena Vista, dropping to sixth place in the Iowa Conference. The Knights were ranked as high as No. 13 in the nation in mid-January although they have fallen out of the top-25 since then. Despite this, Wartburg still stands at the top of the conference in scoring defense (59.7 ppg), scoring margin (+10.2), field goal percentage (42.9%), field goal percentage defense (36.0%). The Knights top two threats on offense are 6 foot 2 senior-center, Kailey Kladivo, and senior point guard Katie Sommer. Kladivo ranks fourth in the IIAC in scoring at 15.7 ppg, nearly averaging a double-double with 8.6 rpg. Sommer is the table-setter, dishing out 4.0 apg while scoring 11.3 and swiping 29 steals thus far.
The all-time series
Wednesday marks the 82nd meeting in a series that dates back to 1976-77. Simpson leads the all-time series 52-29 and had won six in a row before the going 1-3 in the last four. Wartburg won the first meeting 59-56 after trailing by eight going into the fourth quarter.
TOP 5 STORYLINES
1. Keeping it close
Simpson has played in five games decided by five points or less, tied for the league lead with Loras. In those games Simpson is 3-2, with none of the five games coming at home. In Indianola, the average scoring margin has been +/- 14.9 ppg, while on the road it is only +/- 8.2 ppg.
2. Tightening up when it counts
Since Iowa Conference play started, Simpson has held opponents to only 37.6 percent shooting and 29.1 percent from 3-point range, both of which lead the IIAC. The Storm have held opponents to six or fewer 3s six times during those games as well. Four times Simpson has held a conference opponent to 20 field goals or fewer, something that occurred only three times in 11 non-conference games.
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 235 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 34. Mauro made her 154th 3-pointer of her career on last 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 11-1 this season and only 1-6 when it trails at the break. Simpson's only win when trailing at halftime came last Wednesday when it was down 27-26 to the Central Dutch before outscoring them 39-24 in the second half.
5. Making the most of it
Noreen Morrow is 12th in the conference in scoring per game at 12.2 ppg. At only 20.8 mpg, this clip is one of the most efficient in the IIAC among top scorers. Eight of the conference's top 10 scorers are also in the top 10 in minutes played per game, and for the top 12 scorers, Morrow has played the fewest minutes per game.
Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 547-225. 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 332 victories.
The Storm stay in Indianola when they host Central at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6 at Cowles Fieldhouse.