Basketball: Women stifled late, men with rare win at Wartburg


by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

WAVERLY, Iowa – Both the Simpson women and men had big games at Wartburg on Wednesday. For the women, a win would mean four-straight and a chance at setting up a bid for first place in the Iowa Conference on Saturday against Luther. For the men it meant avoiding falling below .500 in conference and feeling the taste of the descent they’d encountered at this time the past few years.

Only one of the two teams would come away with the desired outcome though.

Women’s Game: Wartburg 59, Simpson 56

Head coach Brian Niemuth always puts a large emphasis on stealing some games on the road and holding serve at home. Wednesday night at Wartburg would have been a great opportunity for Simpson to make a move in the Iowa Conference by winning on the road, but a collapse in the fourth quarter cut that short as Wartburg won 59-56 at Levick Arena.

The Storm led 54-46 with 7:15 remaining in the game before being outscored 13-2 the rest of the way. Morgan Neuendorf made what turned out to be the game-winning layup with 2:15 remaining in the game, putting Wartburg (13-3, 3-2) ahead 58-56.

Simpson (10-6, 3-2) closed out the final two minutes much like the previous five had gone, committing four turnovers while failing to convert from the field. Katie Ahrenholtz put up one last heave from 3-point range but her shot clanked off the right side of the rim as the clock ran out.

Key Stats

  • Simpson was outrebounded 46-36 but more importantly, 19-9 on offensive boards.

  • The Knights got to the line 22 times, going 17-22 from the stripe. Simpson went just once, going 0-1 from the free throw line.

  • Kailey Kladivo, who moved into the top-10 in Wartburg’s all-time scoring list on the night, posted a double-double, scoring 18 while grabbing 13 boards.

  • Noreen Morrow tied a career-high 12 rebounds but she struggled offensively. The sophomore scored only two points, matching a season-low.

  • Mackenzie Haupt led Simpson with 15 points, her 10th game in double-figures.

Looking ahead

Simpson will have the luxury of playing at home where it is undefeated (5-0) on Saturday but they’ll be up against stiff competition in first-place Luther. Tip is at 2 p.m. from Cowles.

Men’s Game: Simpson 80, Wartburg 75

Simpson is not used to beating Wartburg in Waverly. In fact, they’re not used to beating the Knights at all over the past few years but head coach Brad Bjorkgren may begin the change in that trend as Simpson (10-6, 3-2) won by five in a game in which Simpson led the whole way after gaining the 3-2 lead just a 94 seconds into the game.

The Storm’s lead floated between three and 12 points for most of the game although Wartburg gave itself one last chance to tie the game in the final seconds, trailing only 78-75 after Austin Turner went 0-2 from the line.. Unfortunately for the Knights (9-7, 2-3), Cam Kickbush sailed a pass out of bounds in the Knights’ final possession.

Ryan Skaar, who scored 17 points, closed the game out by hitting both of his free throws.

Skaar wasn’t alone in his efforts as Dillon Gretzky stole the show with 24 points and Turner scored 15.

DJ Dafney flirted with a double-double, scoring nine while grabbing 11 boards.

Key Stats:

  • Sam Amsbaugh, who leads Simpson in a non-starting role, started on Wednesday but only scored two points in 15 minutes of playing time.

  • Wartburg outscored Simpson 29-13 in bench points

  • Leif Olson didn’t start making Amsbaugh the tallest player in Simpson’s starting five at only 6 foot 5 inches.

Coming up

4-2 in the Iowa Conference would look pretty good and Simpson will have a great chance to do so on Saturday when it hosts Luther (3-13, 2-3). Tip-off is at 4 p.m. from Cowles.