DECATUR, Ill. -- It looked like head coach Brian Niemuth was going to have to wait another day to capture his 600th career victory, but the Simpson women's basketball team mounted a 24-point fourth quarter to defeat Millikin, 76-69, to hand Niemuth the milestone win and claim the Millikin Holiday Classic title on Saturday.
Niemuth becomes the ninth active women's basketball head coach in the NCAA Division III to hit the 600-win plateau in his 33rd season at the helm for Simpson.
Kia Rasmussen and Cassie Chubb were both named to the All-Tournament team to help push the Storm to 7-3 for the year. Chubb ended with a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds to tie a season-high on the glass. Claire Johnson produced 15 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Rasmussen added 14 points.
The Big Blue (8-3) started the game by shooting 61.1% to own a 28-13 advantage to put Simpson on its heels after the first period. Over the next three periods, Millikin failed to maintain the pace as the Storm outscored the Big Blue, 63-41, to move its winning streak to three games.
Simpson chipped away at the deficit to bring the game to 41-39 at halftime after shooting 45.1% in the half.
In the third period, the hosts pushed the tilt back to 11 points at 54-43 with 3:44 left in the stanza. A basket by Cassie Chubb placed the game at 58-52 to send the contest into the fourth in favor of Millikin.
Hattie Rhodes and Chubb connected on back-to-back triples in the first 1:16 of the final period to tie the game at 58-58. Less than 25 seconds later, Rasmussen connected on her second triple of the game to give Simpson its first lead all afternoon at 61-58, which stood the rest of the way. Cassie Nash's basket capped a 15-0 run to extend the team's lead en route to the victory, which spanned 8:22 of game action before the Big Blue scored.
• The Storm finished the contest by shooting 50.9% for its third straight 50% game and currently sits in second in the American Rivers Conference with a 50.3% clip.
• The offense made seven 3-pointers, its fewest in a win since draining seven against Buena Vista on Dec. 5, 2018.
• Chubb is currently averaging 14.4 points per outing and has scored in double figures in all but one game this year.
• Niemuth tallied his 500th career triumph on Feb. 9, 2013 in a 75-62 win over Loras.
Simpson takes the next week off and returns to the court on Sunday, Dec. 29 to start the Music City Classic in Nashville, Tenn. with an 11 a.m. (CT) contest against New Paltz.