Women protect home court, Storm men can’t crack Spartan armor

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by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa – The outcomes that were expected more or less happened on Saturday afternoon as the men’s and women’s basketball teams hosted Dubuque, looking to preserve their combined-perfect home records.

The women accomplished that, downing a struggling Dubuque team 80-53 but the Iowa Conference preseason favorites ended the Simpson men’s 4-0 start at Cowles Fieldhouse, defeating the Storm 74-64.

Women’s Game: Simpson (10-5, 3-1) 80, Dubuque (5-10, 0-4) 53

Simpson scored at least 80 points for the second straight game behind four double-digit scoring performance from Simpson as they trounced the IIAC cellar-dweller.

Down 8-7 with 3:35 to go in the first quarter, it took a little time for Simpson to get its traction but once they did it was over. Morgan Mauro hit a go-ahead three just seconds later, giving Simpson a 10-7 lead, one that they would ride out the rest of the way.

The Storm led by many as 27 points in the fourth quarter, cruising to the finish after creating a 43-27 cushion at the half.

The outburst late in the game is likely indicative of the fresh legs head coach Brian Niemuth has been able to maintain, not playing a single player over 21 minutes on Saturday, while getting playing time for 15 players.

Mackenzie Haupt and Noreen Morrow scored a team-high 13 points each and Britney Boland nearly notched a double-double, posting a 12 point, nine rebound day.

The Storm defense managed to hold Dubuque to only 34.5 percent shooting and one player in double-figures, 11 points from Allie Biermeier.

Simpson is 5-0 at home and after a 1-3 start, the Storm have gone 9-2, looking to make it four straight wins at No. 13 Wartburg, who is 12-3 overall despite starting conference play just 2-2.

Tip-off is at 6 p.m. from Waverly.

Men’s Game: Dubuque (10-5, 3-1) 74, Simpson (9-6, 2-2)

Simpson had a chance to leap-frog Dubuque and earn a spot at the top of the conference on Saturday, but Simpson couldn’t quite crack the Spartans armor on Saturday.

“They have a nice ball club,” head coach Brad Bjorkgren said. “They did a nice job just kind of trading it in the paint and we had a hard time keeping them from penetrating. Everyone that played gave us a shot though.”

2014-15 conference MVP, Andre Norris had a 15 point, 14 rebound double-double, but he was just one of two Dubuque players with a double-double evening. Post player Jake Weber managed to post a 16-10 day to back up Dubuque’s main-man and stave off multiple late-game pushes from the Storm.

“We are trying to figure out for sure what grade he [Norris] is in,” Bjorkgren said. “The program says he is a junior, our scouting report says that he is a senior but we are going with that because that is good news. I know we are going to have to play him again and hopefully we are going to have to play him a third time.”

Norris, who averages 22.9 points per game, was guarded by DJ Dafney, keeping the conference’s leading scorer to limited shooting opportunities early on before heating up later in the game.

Simpson did a good job neutralizing Dubuque’s outside shooters, holding them to 4-21 from deep but the Spartans exposed Simpson down low, putting up 38 points in the paint while going 16-19 from the line.

The two teams went back and forth for much of the first half before Dubuque went on a 13-2 run to make it a 37-26 lead with 2:49 to go in the first half.

Simpson kept jabbing at the Spartans and managed to get within three at 55-52 with just under eight to go, although this next run, a 14-2 breakout, put the game out of reach.

Despite the loss, Sam Amsbaugh continued to be a stellar-sixth man, leading Simpson in scoring with 20 points for an offense that shot just 36 percent.

Simpson looks considerably better than where it was last year at this time and they’ll have a shot at Wartburg on Wednesday in Waverly at 8 p.m, continuing play in a very up-for-grabs conference.

“Wednesday against Wartburg is going to be a tough one but I am more confident now than I was last week [at this point],” Bjorkgren said.