INDIANOLA, Iowa - The Simpson women's basketball team has a chance to wrap up no-worse than a No. 5 seed in the Iowa Conference Tournament and a regular season sweep of Coe when they host the Kohawks on Saturday, Feb. 13 at Cowles Fieldhouse. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. on Senior Day.
Matchup: Coe (13-9, 4-7) at Simpson (13-9, 6-5)
Date: Saturday, Feb. 13
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Cowles Fieldhouse - Indianola, Iowa
Last Time Out
Simpson was in control early, leading 22-16, but Luther outscored the Storm 22-10 in the second quarter, taking the lead and going on to win 71-59 as the Storm fell to the IIAC leading Norse on Wednesday night. Noreen Morrow scored a team-high 19 points and reeled in eight rebounds as Simpson outscored Luther 30-6 in the paint. Mackenzie Haupt added 16 but Luther held the advantage on the outside as a whole, having all three starting guards score in double-figures, led by Kylie Romeo's 19.
A look at Coe
Coe's Jenna Lehman scored a career-high 20 points on Wednesday night but the Kohawks were upset by Dubuque 94-89, giving the Kohawks their third straight loss. The Kohawks went 9-2 in non-conference play but have endured a different story in the Iowa Conference this year, going 4-7 in the IIAC including a 75-71 loss to Simpson on Jan. 9 in Cedar Rapids. First-year head coach Nate Oakland and Coe lean heavily on a three-headed attack of IIAC leading-scorer Aleena Hobbs (19.1 ppg), junior sharpshooter Mickey Hansche and sophomore table-setter, Jenna Lehman. Hansche leads the IIAC with 54 3s and Lehman posts a league-best 3.1 assist/turnover ratio. Coe scored 73.1 ppg, second best in the IIAC, but they surrender a 40.7 opponent's field goal percentage, second-worst in the IIAC.
The all-time series
Saturday's game marks the 52nd meeting in a series that dates back to the 1977-78 season. Simpson leads the all-time series 41-10, but Coe has won 4 of 5. Simpson won the first meeting this season, 75-71 on Jan. 9 in Cedar Rapids. Simpson won 33 of the first 34 games in the series, but the Kohawks are 9-8 since the 2009-10 season.
5 STORM STORYLINES
1. Creating some context
A win on Saturday would guarantee Simpson no worse than a .500 record in conference and solidify Simpson as at least a No. 5 seed in the Iowa Conference Tournament, meaning the Storm would likely face Wartburg or Buena Vista in the first round of the tournament. A victory would also mean a season-sweep of Coe for the first time since the season of the Sweet 16 run in 2012-13. The Storm went 0-3 against the Kohawks last season.
2. Going hard in the paint
Wednesday night's loss to Luther also brought an anomalous statistical outcome. Simpson outscored the Norse 30-6 in the paint but managed to lose 71-59. This season, Simpson's success in scoring down low and limiting their opponent around the basket has been a good barometer of what the final score is. The Storm are 13-5 when scoring as many or more points as their opponents in the paint, and are winless at 0-4 when losing that statistical battle.
3. Simpson's sixth man award
Katie Ahrenholtz has not started one game this year, playing in 21 of the team's 22 games off the bench. Despite her bench role, Ahrenholtz is fourth on the team with 7.8 ppg in only 14.9 mpg. Her scoring average per 40 minutes is second best on the team at 20.9 ppg, second only to Noreen Morrow who has an average of 23.4 points per 40 minutes played. Ahrenholtz is more efficient than even Mackenzie Haupt and Maddie Bosworth, both who have started all 22 games this year average 11.3 and 10.7 ppg respectively.
4. 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 238 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 6.2 3s per game and are led by Morgan Mauro who has made 34, six more than Mackenzie Haupt's 28. Mauro made her 154th 3-pointer of her career against Central on Jan. 27, moving her into sole possession of third place in Simpson's all-time 3-point list.
5. Finish strong
Over the past five seasons Simpson is 8-7 in the final three regular season games, but only 1-5 in the past two years combined. When Simpson goes at least 2-1 in the final three regular season games it has meant it'll advance to at least the conference tournament semifinals. Simpson has suffered first round exits both times it has finished 1-2 or below in the final three regular season games. Simpson's final three opponents are a combined 19-14 in the Iowa Conference this year.
Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 548-227. 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 333 victories.
The Storm play host to Buena Vista on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. in the final regular season home game of 2015-16. The game will mark the annual Play-4-Kay game for breast cancer awareness.