Storm build big lead, hold on to beat UW-Eau Claire 72-64

Rachel Freland
Rachel Freland

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson set the tone early with its defense, built a big lead, then hung on for dear life.

Noreen Morrow had 16 points and nine rebounds and the Storm women's basketball team beat Wis.-Eau Claire 72-64 on Saturday for its fourth win in five games.

Jenna Taylor finished with 11 points and seven boards for Simpson (7-3), which built a 24-point lead in the first half thanks to a defensive effort that produced 14 turnovers. The Storm were able to convert the turnovers into 18 points.

The lead evaporated in the fourth quarter thanks to an 18-0 run as Simpson went without a field goal in the final 6 minutes.

"They made some good adjustments and we kind of relaxed a little bit," assistant coach Moran Lonning said.

Caryn Donahue scored all 12 of her points in the second half to lead the Blugolds (7-2), who lost their second straight after opening the season 7-0. Maddie Dunathan also scored 12 before fouling out.

Morrow's put-back with 1 second left in the second quarter gave Simpson a 39-15 halftime lead. The Storm outscored Eau Claire 21-4 in the final 5 minutes of the first half, triggered by a 12-0 run. Taylor scored six straight to begin the rally and Rachel Freland hit a pair of jumpers.

Freland finished with 10 points off the bench to help Simpson beat Eau Claire for the fourth-straight time.

"I love being a spark off the bench," Freland said. "That's the role I've come to know."

Morrow's fastbreak layup with 6:27 left in the fourth gave Simpson a 67-44 lead, the final field goal of the game for the Storm. Kelsey Bakken hit a 3-pointer with 5:24 left, sparking the run that pulled the Blugolds within five with 1:17 left.

Eau Claire had a chance to pull closer but Cameron Kincaid blocked Kayla Hanley's 3 -- one of her three -- and Janey Botkins hit a pair of free throws to put the game away for good.

Key Players
Noreen Morrow — 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists
Jenna Taylor — 11 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Rachel Freland — 10 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal

Game Notes
» Simpson improves to 6-1 in the all-time series with Wis.-Eau Claire and has won four in a row.
» The Storm shot 50 percent from the field for the fifth time in 10 games this season after hitting the mark just twice in all of 2016-17.
» Simpson held Eau Claire to just 18 percent shooting in the first half. The Blugolds managed just six points in the second quarter.
» The WIAC's leading-scorer, Anna Graaskamp, was held to just four points on 2-for-9 shooting. She came in averaging better than 17 points per game.
» Simpson was dominant in the paint, outscoring Eau Claire 40-26.

Up Next
Wednesday, Dec. 20 vs. Lebanon Valley at the Daytona Beach Shootout.

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