INDIANOLA, Iowa - It's a tight race in seeds two through five in the Iowa Conference and on Wednesday the Simpson women get a crack at Buena Vista, who stands one game ahead of the Storm in the standings. Wednesday marks the final regular season home contest and the annual Pink game, and all fans wearing pink will be admitted free of charge. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
Matchup: Buena Vista (14-9, 8-4) at Simpson (14-9, 7-5)
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 17
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Cowles Fieldhouse - Indianola, Iowa
Last Time Out
Simpson completed a season sweep of Coe with a 77-68 victory last Saturday. The Storm had their lead cut to one on six different occasions, but Simpson never broke, leading from wire-to-wire and by as many as 17. Maddie Bosworth gave Simpson a huge lift in the second half, scoring 14 of her game-high 18 points after the break, helping the Storm turn a pivotal 13-4 run to end the third quarter. Britney Boland nearly posted a double-double, scoring 13 to go with nine rebounds and Noreen Morrow had another double-digit scoring night with 16 points.
A look at Buena Vista
The Beavers squandered a 24 point performance from center Jasmine Flynn-Graves in a 81-78 loss to second place Loras on Saturday, snapping a four-game winning streak that included a 10 point victory over conference-leading Luther. Buena Vista's offense is the most productive in the conference, scoring 76.1 ppg behind a team-high 15.3 ppg from center Jasmine Flynn-Graves and 13.6 from guard Lexi Fisher. The Beavers are the only team in the Iowa Conference with two players in the top five in assists, Lacey Vokt (4.0) and Becca Pennington (3.8). Despite generating a league-best 10.4 steals per game, the Beavers have allowed at least 94 points three different times and are seventh in the Iowa Conference in scoring defense, allowing 70.7 ppg while having the worst field goal percentage defense (40.5 percent).
Wednesday marks the 77th meeting in a series that dates back to 1976-77. Simpson leads the all-time series 47-29 and is 27-10 at home against the Beavers. The teams have split the last four meetings, including Buena Vista's 74-62 win in the Iowa Conference opener on Jan. 6.
5 STORM STORYLINES
2. Simpson's sixth man award
Katie Ahrenholtz has not started one game this year, playing in 22 of the team's 23 games, all of which have come from 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 23.5 points per 40 minutes played. Ahrenholtz is more efficient than even Mackenzie Haupt and Maddie Bosworth, both who have started all 23 games this year average 11.1 and 11.0 ppg respectively.
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 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 35, six more than Mackenzie Haupt's 29. 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.
4. Bringing her best against Buena Vista
Whitney Van Wyk has induced headaches for Buena Vista in her seven career games against the Beavers, a span in which Simpson has gone 6-1. The senior has posted considerably better totals in five of the main statistical categories than in the rest of her career. Van Wyk averages 9.4 ppg against Buena Vista, far better than her 4.7 ppg career average. She has bested her career average against Buena Vista in rebounds (4.3 to 3.5), assists (2.3 to 1.9), steals (3.0 to 1.7) and blocks (1.0 to 0.7). She has scored in double-figures three times against the Beavers, including a career-high 17 points on Jan. 15, 2014.
5. Home comforts
Simpson has settled in offensively much better at home than on the road, and its home record shows for it. The Storm are 7-2 at Cowles Fieldhouse, 4-4 on the road and 3-3 at neutral sites. The Storm score 71.2 ppg at home versus 64.9 on the road while shooting better inside and outside the arc (42.2 - 40.3 percent and 36.1 - 32.4 percent from 3-point range). Simpson also shoots 79.7 percent from the line at home, nine percent better than in away games. Lastly, Simpson has scored 80 points or more three times this season, all three of which have come in home games.
Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 549-227. 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 334 victories.
The regular season slate finishes up on Saturday when Simpson looks to make a last-second jump up the Iowa Conference standings against Loras College in Dubuque. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. on Feb. 20.