INDIANOLA, Iowa – Simpson College women’s basketball team was leading the University of Dubuque, 66-65 with 1:06 remaining although the Spartans would score the final four points as they beat the Storm, 69-66 Wednesday night.
“I thought we played hard and did a nice job,” head coach Brian Niemuth said. “At the end we made a couple mistakes, had a travel and took a couple of shots that weren’t great shots. I was happy with our effort, but they had a ‘go-to’ senior that hit a couple big shots for them.”
Junior MacKenzie Haupt scored a game high 20 points in 21 minutes of play although four Dubuque (15-7, 9-2) players scored in double-figures as the Spartans remained all alone for first place in the IIAC.
Haupt would hit the opening shot of the game, giving Simpson the 2-0 lead although Dubuque would go up minutes later, never giving up the lead the rest of the first half.
Simpson (15-7, 5-6) forced a 35-35 tie on a Brittany Hedrick jumper at the 2:16 mark in the first half although the Spartans would lead 41-38 at the break.
Things remained tight the rest of they way with no team leading by more than six points.
The Storm were rewarded for staying close to Dubuque when a couple Spartans turnovers setup a go-ahead 3-point play from Katie Ahrenholtz at the 9:21 mark to give the Storm a 54-53 lead.
Ahrenholtz wasn’t done, scoring again the next trip down the court to give Simpson a four point, 57-53 lead, tied for their largest lead of the game.
Simpson was able to stave the Spartans off for the next seven minutes leading 66-62 with 1:18 remaining after a Haupt layup.
The Storm just needed another stop and score and the game would be virtually over.
Senior, and leading scorer in the IIAC, Jenna Kosta, stepped up with a long 3-pointer to bring Dubuque within one at 66-65 with 1:06 remaining.
“That shot was not just at the top of the key but probably two feet behind the line,” Niemuth said. “think we win the game if she doesn’t knock that down, but she’s a good player.”
A Haupt layup that rolled off the rim and a Maddie Muhlenbruck turnover gave it right back to Kosta who hit the go-ahead layup with 26 seconds remaining, giving the Spartans a 67-66 lead.
Niemuth then called a timeout, drawing up a play and entering a series of players as the Storm looked for the go-ahead score.
Letting the clock tick-down, Hedrick put up a layup with four seconds on the clock although being heavily contested the shot was well off as Dubuque came away with the defensive rebound.
Dubuque’s Kayla Springer would knock two free throws down, giving Dubuque the 69-66 lead.
Simpson called one last 30 second timeout, designing a play that set-up Maddie Bosworth for the game-tying 3-pointer although it was blocked from behind by Springer as Bosworth dialed up the shot.
No player other than Haupt scored in double figures for Simpson as the Storm were outrebounded again, 43-36
Simpson did shoot an impressive 22-24 from the line although a 4-20 performance from 3-point land hurt the Storm.
Kosta had16 points and six rebounds as Emily Brinker poured in 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals.
With the loss Simpson falls to 5-6 in conference, two games behind fourth place Loras College and one game in front of Wartburg as the Storm battle for one of the final spots in the IIAC Tournament.
Simpson will head to Storm Lake on Saturday for their final regular season road game.
Last time these two teams faced each other, Simpson had the upper-hand, winning 62-54 in Indianola.
“Buena Vista is a hard matchup because they shoot a lot of 3’s and play similar ball,” Niemuth said. “They’ll be amped up with it being senior night so we have to make sure that we are ready to play.”
Tip-off is at 2 p.m. at Buena Vista University as the Beavers honor their seniors on senior night.