Women’s basketball makes National tournament

Women's basketball makes National tournament

by Lexie HagertyStaff Writer

Simpson women’s basketball team, led by Coach Brian Niemuth, shot their way to the national tournament on Saturday, Feb. 28.

Simpson (24-3) beat Wartburg College (16-11), earning their fifth IIAC tournament and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III National Championships.

Simpson ended their initial season (22-3), with their losses going to St. Thomas of Minnesota, Luther College and Buena Vista University. Even with two conference losses, the Storm won the IIAC conference title and the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

“We had a few glitches, but I think all good teams need that to realize their weaknesses and get better,” senior center Brenna Abel said. “I think this season has gone really, really well.”

Simpson received a bid first round, allowing them to focus on playing Buena Vista (18-9) second round.

“If we are going to go very far in the tournament, we have to be a rebounding team,” Niemuth said. “When you get into the NCAA tournament, defense and rebounding tends to win games. We need to get better as a rebounding team.”

Simpson defeated Buena Vista 75-65, advancing to the IIAC finals for the eighth time in tournament history. Simpson out-rebounded the Beavers 42-38, led by freshman forward Stacey Schutjer with nine.

“I think we have good balance on the team,” Niemuth said. “It seems to be different people each night that carries us. I would like to see us play where everyone plays well and see how good we can really be.”

The Storm played No. 2 Wartburg for the finals, beating the Warriors 74-45. The win was Simpson’s 29th consecutive victory at home.

“One of our goals was to win the Conference Championship and our second goal was to win the tournament championship and now our third one is to go as far as we can in the NCAA tournament,” Niemuth said.

Niemuth gave a lot of his victory credit to the intensity of the girls.

“The intensity from our second group did a nice job,” Niemuth said. “The first group really played well and the second group kept that intensity going. So instead of coasting on the lead that the first group built, they enlarged the lead.”

Simpson had a four-point lead going into the half. The Storm ended the second half with a twenty-nine-point spread.

“We were definitely ready for a good game and knew we needed to come out hard since it was the Championship and all,” sophomore guard Amy Hamilton said. “We were ready to defend our house and go out and do our best.”

Hamilton sits at No. 1 in the nation for three pointers.

“We brought some intensity,” Hamilton said. “We are really proud of the tradition that we keep going and working together and playing hard for each other.”

Simpson will be heading into the National tournament as the No. 1 seed in the IIAC. Details of the tournament have not been posted.

“We got to the Sweet Sixteen the last two years,” Niemuth said. “So as of right now, we just hope to get farther than that.”