Simpson women dominate Nebraska Wesleyan, move on to next round


Photo by Austin Hronich

by Gunnar Davis, Sports Editor

After one quarter of play, Simpson women’s basketball team found themselves ahead of Nebraska Wesleyan, 22-14, on Feb. 19.

After two quarters, it wasn’t even close.

The Storm (20-6, 11-5) rolled past Nebraska Wesleyan after dropping 27 points in the second quarter, compared to the Prairie Wolves’ six. The squad went on to win, 92-72, in the first round of the American Rivers Conference tournament.

“I loved how we came out and put the hammer down right away,” Assistant Coach Moran Lonning said. “And we even got better in the second quarter. We held them to six points in the second quarter, which is incredible.”

At the half, the Storm held a 49-20 advantage. From there, the squad coasted through the rest of the third and fourth quarter. The largest lead of the night came midway through the third quarter, when Simpson held a 74-30 lead.

“We got to sit some of our starters, and that was huge,” Lonning said. “I think we’ll be pretty fresh for Thursday, when it’s only one day of rest in between. I think it showed that we were focused and we understand now that it’s survive and advance, it’s win or go home.”

In the two previous matchups, the series split at 1-1, with the last game ending in an 82-80 overtime loss at Nebraska Wesleyan for Simpson.

“We were much more focused and locked in on defense compared to when we played them the first time,” Lonning said.

Junior guard Janey Botkins agreed with her coach and said defense was a key to success.

“Our offense came off our defense today,” Botkins said. “We got a lot of tips and focused defensively, and that helped us on offense.”

Senior forward Jenna Taylor was a dominant force down low, racking up a double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Botkins also added 19 points, making five 3-pointers along the way.

Botkins was proud of how her team played and said they found a groove all night offensively.

“I think today, offensively, we had a lot more ball movement and that helped everyone individually,” Botkins said. “We had a lot of people to go to and a lot more openings than we usually do.”

The third-seeded Storm will now travel to face the second-seeded Loras Duhawks on Thursday for the semifinals of the conference tournament. In the two previous games, Simpson lost both in close efforts.

“I think now we have a lot of momentum going into Loras,” Botkins said. “I think the last two times we’ve played them, they’ve been close. This game gave us kind of the push that we needed playing them on Thursday.”

Lonning hopes to carry this win into Thursday.

“I think we need to have that same intensity right out of the gate, but then withstand it and even crank it up each quarter,” Lonning said. “We’ve got to be ready to adjust because they’re a well-coached team.”

“We’ve seen in the past that if we’re close within the two minute mark,” Lonning added. “We’re a pretty deadly team.”