Fifth-seeded Simpson and fourth-seeded Buena Vista face-off in a rubber match in the first round of Iowa Conference Tournament on Tuesday after splitting two meetings in the regular season this year. Simpson fell to the Beavers 74-62 in Storm Lake on Jan. 6 but responded with a 71-64 win at home on Feb. 17. The winner faces top-seeded Luther on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Siebens Fieldhouse in Storm Lake.
Matchup: Simpson (15-10, 8-6) at Buena Vista (14-11, 8-6)
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 23
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Storm Lake, Iowa - Siebens Fieldhouse
Last time out
Simpson was held to a season low 39 points in a 60-39 loss at Loras on Saturday. The Storm led 15-9 after the first quarter but couldn't keep up the pace after shooting just 25.5 percent (14 of 55) for the game. The Duhawks outscored Simpson 36-21 in the second half, holding Noreen Morrow to two points after she tore up Loras for 24 in the first meeting between the two teams. The loss kept Simpson from hosting a first round game while giving Loras the No. 2 seed.
A look at Buena Vista
Buena Vista comes into tournament play with a three-game losing streak, its most recent defeat coming in a 92-78 loss at Coe on Saturday. Its last win was an 83-70 victory over Central on Feb. 10. Buena Vista boasts the best scoring offense in the league, averaging 75.7 ppg while allowing 71.6 ppg, the second most in the Iowa Conference. The Beavers have attempted 595 three-pointers, more than any IIAC team, but their go-to scorer is center Jasmyn Flynn-Graves who leads the Beavers with 15.6 ppg.
Wednesday marks the 78th meeting in a series that dates back to 1976-77. Simpson leads the all-time series 48-29. The teams split the regular season meetings as each defended its home court. Simpson and Buena Vista have only met once in the IIAC Tournament, a game Simpson won 75-65 in the 2009 semifinals.
5 STORM STORYLINES
1. Tournament talk
The Storm are well acquainted with the Iowa Conference Tournament. Simpson has qualified for the tournament every year since its inception in 2000, making this the 17th straight season. The Storm have won six IIAC Tournament titles, the most recent in 2013. Simpson is 26-9 all-time in the IIAC Tournament and 7-2 in the first round. Simpson is just 2-6 on the road, though, its last road win coming in the 2010 championship at Coe. This season marks Simpson's first as the No. 5 seed.
2. 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 240 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 38, six more than Mackenzie Haupt's 32. 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.
3. 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 7-1. The senior has posted considerably better totals in five of the main statistical categories than in the rest of her career. Van Wyk averages 9.3 ppg against Buena Vista, above her 4.7 ppg career average. She has bested her career average against Buena Vista in rebounds (4.8 to 3.5), assists (2.4 to 1.9), steals (3.3 to 1.7) and blocks (0.9 to 0.7). She has scored in double-figures three times against the Beavers, including a career-high 17 points on Jan. 15, 2014.
4. Comeback killers
The score after the third quarter is highly indicative of the final outcome this year. When Simpson leads after three quarters it is 14-1, with its only loss coming on Jan. 20 at Wartburg when the Knights outscored the Storm 17-6 in the fourth quarter to come from behind and win 59-56. Conversely, Simpson is 0-9 when trailing after the third quarter and 1-0 when tied.
5. Triple threat
Simpson has three players averaging double-figures in scoring: Noreen Morrow (12.0 ppg), Mackenzie Haupt (10.9 ppg) and Maddie Bosworth (10.9). If this trio can stay above 10.0 ppg with at least one remaining in the season, they would be the first group of three to score in double-figures for Simpson in one season since 2009-10, a feat the Storm women didn't accomplish during even their three straight NCAA Tournament appearances between 2010-2013. The 2009-10 group included Stacey Schutjer, Katie Kitzman and Amy Hamilton.
Brian Niemuth is in his 29th season as Simpson's head coach, where he is 550-228. 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 335 victories.