Dafney drops career-best double-double in resilient Storm win


by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa – There were eight ties and 14 lead changes, but Simpson’s 29-36 performance from the free throw line and a career-high 19 point, 11 rebound double-double from junior DJ Dafney led Simpson to an 80-76 win over Monmouth (Ill.) on Monday night.

“DJ got us going and we made free throws at the end, and you’re going to have to make free throws at the end to win games,” head coach Brad Bjorkgren said.

Monmouth (6-3) led 35-32 at the half, outscoring the Storm (6-3) 20-10 through the first half.

Neither team could dig a firm foothold for a substantial lead until a key stretch in the second half when Simpson recorded three “and-ones” in less than 90 seconds to go on 13-1 run, taking a 70-60 lead.

“I think we were down four with four and a half minutes to go in the second half and we must have went on an 11-0 run, made possible by a couple and-ones by DJ and Dillon,” Bjorkgren said. “All of a sudden we are protecting the lead.”

During that run, Austin Turner ended a scrambled possession with a three-pointer, creating a 67-60 lead with 2:48 remaining. The shot wouldn’t create Simpson’s largest lead of the game, but it created the separation that sent Monmouth into fouling mode late.

Monmouth hit three 3-pointers between the 1:13 mark and the end of the game to keep Monmouth relevant, although Simpson hit nine of its last 10 to stave off the run.

A closer look

While it didn’t factor in late, Simpson scored on three consecutive 3-pointers from Jamie Montogmery to take a 55-51 lead with 8:13 left.

“Off the bench, I think we need to mention Jamie Montgomery who had three big threes to get us going,” Bjorkgren said.

Defensively, Simpson was sound, holding an athletic Monmouth team to 10 points below its season average.

Guard Will Jones scored 29 points against Beloit in his last game, but was held to just 15 on Monday.

“Will Jones is a very good ofensive player, and Dillon and Ryan traded off guarding him and I think we made him beat us from the perimeter,” Bjorkgren said. “We did a good job on ball screens with him and we were able to use the sideline to eliminate him.”

Instead, Riley Blea led Monmouth with 17 points on 6 of 13 shooting.

Simpson is now 6-3, tying their win total from all of last season, and can make it eight wins before the 2016 calendar year begins.

The Storm also got 14 points from Ryan Skaar and Leif Olson, a season-high for the 6 foot 7 inch forward.

“A good team will have someone different step up every night, and we have had a different guy step up in all of our victories,” Bjorkgren said. “When you do that everyone starts to buy in.”

Forward Sam Amsbaugh was held to only four points for Simpson, leaving the game late in the second half due to a lower leg injury. His status is unknown.

Looking ahead

The Storm can do that when they head to the University of Dubuque Classic to take on Mt. Mercy at 3 p.m on Tuesday, Dec. 29. Simpson will play the Illinois Institute of Technology the following day at 3 p.m., also in Dubuque.