The Simpson women's basketball team aims to bounce back from a setback against Wartburg on Wednesday when it hosts the Central Dutch on Saturday afternoon. The win would make Simpson 2-0 against Central on the year and tie last year's conference win total at six.
Matchup: Central (4-16, 1-8) at Simpson (12-8, 5-4)
Date: Saturday, Feb. 6
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Cowles Fieldhouse - Indianola, Iowa
Last time out
Despite playing a first quarter that featured five lead changes and had the appearance of being tight throughout, Simpson ended up succumbing to Wartburg 77-61 at the hands of a 27 point performance from Wartburg guard Katie Sommer. A 21-5 run in the second quarter put the Knights ahead 37-23 at the break, a deficit Simpson couldn't rebound from.
A look at Central
Central (4-16, 1-8) lugs a six game losing streak and a tie for last place in conference into Saturday's game with Simpson. The Dutch were cut down at home on Jan. 27 by Simpson in a 65-54 loss as a part of that losing skid. Freshman forward Claire Marburger has had a stellar year despite being a part of the league's least efficient scoring offense. The Perry native averages 16.4 ppg and 8.8 rpg, both team highs. The Dutch bring a 2-8 road record to Indianola and they're still in search of their first conference-road victory on the year.
Saturday marks the 85th meeting in a series that dates back to 1974-75. Simpson leads the series 54-30 and has won the last 29 in the series. Central's last win came on Feb. 2, 2002.
TOP 5 STORM STORYLINES
1. "Just win baby"
A win on Saturday would give Simpson a 13-8 record on the season, ensuring a 19th-straight winning season, dating back to 1996-97 when it was 11-14. Head coach Brian Niemuth took over in 1985-86 and has only endured three losing seasons in his 27-year tenure.
2. Debunking the sophomore slump
After a quiet, injury-laden season as a freshman last year, Noreen Morrow has proven the sophomore slump to be a farce. The 6 foot 2 center has turned five double-doubles this year, fourth most in the IIAC. She is one of only two players in the league's top ten in this category to post at least one double-double after failing to put up a double-double last year. Her five double-doubles are the most a Storm player has had in a year since first team All-American and IIAC MVP Katie Nielsen did so in 2012-13 when she posted 11.
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 236 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 6.3 3s per game and are led by Morgan Mauro who has made 33, nine more than Mackenzie Haupt's 24. Mauro made her 154th 3-pointer of her career last time out against Central on Jan. 27, 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 1-7 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. Get to the line
Getting to the free throw line and limiting opponents' trips to the stripe has factored heavily when Simpson wins. The Storm are 10-2 this year when making as many or more free throws than its opponents, and only 2-6 when failing to do so. Simpson is fourth in the Iowa Conference in free throw percentage at 72.3 percent. Noreen Morrow is ninth in the league at 75 percent from the line.
Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 547-226. 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.
Simpson will travel to Decorah to face the Iowa Conference leading Luther Norse (16-4, 8-1) on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m.