Simpson falls in second round of tournament

Simpson falls in second round of tournament

by Ben Frotscher

Coming from behind once was tough, but the twice-as-nice feat of coming from behind in the second round of the NCAA tournament fell just short.

No. 21 University of Wisconsin-Stout defeated No. 17 Simpson in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday, 78-68.

The Storm dug itself an early hole in the first half with poor shooting and a hot Blue Devil attack, falling behind 41-27. UW-Stout shot 51.5 percent in the first half, making 7-of-11 three-point shots while Simpson went only 8-for-30 in the half.

But senior Heather Kay said playing from behind was how Simpson has done it all year.

“I think that’s kind of our style,” Kay said. “It’s what we’ve done all year.”

Simpson came out in the second half on a surge, going on a 33-18 run thanks to the three-point shot. The Storm made five in the first 10 minutes, and capped off the run with a senior Sarah Pearson jumper to take a 60-59 lead.

Sophomore Ashley Katch said the team was forced to look for the three-point shot more because of the Blue Devil defense.

“Offensively we needed to look outside a little more because they were collapsing in the middle,” Katch said.

The Storm was able to build a three-point lead, but the Blue Devils (22-7) took control and never relinquished the lead.

The Storm (24-5) was led by sophomore Carlie Beals and Kay who scored 13 points apiece. Sophomore Katelyn Whiton added 12 points and a team leading eight rebounds.

For the game that saw an attendance of 650, Simpson shot 23-for-60, just 38.3 percent for the game, but was 8-for-11 from beyond the arc. The Blue Devils finished with 42.6 percent shooting from the field and shot 10-for-25 from behind the arc.

Senior Dana Johnson said the three-point shot was something that just killed the team’s momentum against Stout.

“We tried to take away their inside game, but they were hitting their outside shots.”

Simpson was also out rebounded 45-39 for the game.

Getting to the second round, Simpson needed a second-half rally to defeat College of St. Benedict (21-6) on Friday, 73-70 in front of 910 fans. It was its first win in the championship round of the NCAA tournament.

Kay said the game against the Blazers was a fight to the end.

“We did have a tough game and our starters had to play a lot of minutes,” Kay said.

Simpson got the better of the Blazers this time around in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Last season, the Storm lost at St. Benedict in the first round.

The Blazers, like the Blue Devils, opened the first half with a great shooting effort. St. Benedict shot 14-for-28 from the field, with 5-for-9 shooting of three-point shots in the first half, to take a 44-36 lead into halftime.

St. Benedict extended its lead to 49-38 early in the second half, but Simpson went on a 15-3 run to take the lead with 11:27 to go in the game. The game remained close in the closing half with the teams exchanging the lead on multiple occasions.

But Simpson pushed the lead to 71-63 with 2:22 to go, and held on with the ability to make free throws.

Whiton led Simpson with 15 points and Johnson added 10 points and five assists. Katch tied the school record for blocks with 10 while taking down 11 rebounds and eight points.

Simpson out rebounded the Blazers 45-31 and also edged St. Benedict 40-24 with points in the paint.

Simpson ended the season with 24 wins, tied for the most in school history with the 1998-99 team.

Kay said she was happy with how the season went, despite the second round loss.

“As a senior, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.” Kay said.

With more than 1,500 total attending the first and second round games, Johnson said it was great to see the amount of fan support.

“It was really amazing, and coming back made it a lot easier with the fans there,” Johnson said.

Katch said making it to the second round is great for momentum heading into the offseason and next year.

“It’s a really good building block for next year,” Katch said. “Our goal for next year will be to make the Sweet 16.”