Men struggle over break to bring home wins

by Alex McCarty

The men’s basketball team had a challenging schedule over winter break leading to a 1-4 record over that time span and a 5-9 record overall.

The Storm’s first game of the break was against Grandview on Dec. 17. The result was a heartbreaking 74-73 loss to the Vikings. Simpson led by as many as 15 points, but could not survive junior guard Jordan Gentry’s performance. Gentry scored nine of his 15 points in the final three minutes of the game.

Junior forward Olu Rotibi led Simpson with 19 points during the loss and tied a Simpson single-game record going 13-13 from the charity stripe. Senior forward Cornelius Mosby had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds as well.

The Storm turned the ship around in their next performance of the holiday break. The men traveled to Eau Claire, Wisc. to face the Vikings of Bethany Lutheran in the first round of the UW-Eau Claire Holiday Classic. Senior guard Zack Barragan led the team with a career-high 29 points, helping the Storm win 83-71. Mosby recorded another dominating performance with 17 points and 17 rebounds.

In the championship game of the Eau Claire Holiday Classic, the men took on the host school, UW-Eau Claire. The Blugolds stretched out a 19-point lead over the Storm with 7:27 left in the game, but in the next four minutes the Storm went on a furious run. Sophomore forward Drew Bentley helped lead the charge off the bench with 21 points, and Mosby for the third straight game picked up a double-double.

The Storm cut the lead to four but the Blugolds answered with a 6-0 run to seal the win for UW-Eau Claire.

Sophomore guard Ryan Olsen said defense was what the team needs to improve to compete in the upcoming conference games.

“Coach Z talks a lot about playing defense and finishing out defensive possessions,” Olsen said.

The Storm gave up 82.3 points per game during their losing streak over break. The Storm looked to improve on their defense against two conference opponents.

Simpson then opened the conference season back up with games against Coe College and Dubuque. The Storm traveled to take on the Coe Kohawks in Cedar Rapids on Jan. 4. Coe shot a sizzling 61 percent from the floor and used the offensive efficiency to knock off the Storm 90-75.

Shooting 13-22 from behind the arc also hurt the Storm as Coe lit it up from the 3-point line. Again Barragan led the team with 20 points in the loss.

The final game of winter break was a home contest against the Spartans of Dubuque. Simpson gave up more shots from behind the arc with senior guard Lee Piccineli going 5 for 6 from 3-point land. His 24 points, 17 of them in the second half, helped down the Storm 82-67.

Barragan continued his tear with a 16-point effort for the Storm, which was a team high. Mosby and senior guard Chad Boston continued a theme as well for the men with both of them posting double-doubles for the team.

Simpson finally got off of their 3-game losing streak with a hard fought victory over Buena Vista on Jan. 11. Buena Vista cut Simpson’s 12-point lead to three, late in the second half but held on to win in Storm Lake.

Barragan continued his torrid pace with a 27-point outburst, which also gained him a spot in the Simpson College record book. Barragan hit seven 3-pointers giving him the school record for most career 3-pointers in Simpson’s history. Barragan’s 174 3-point baskets pushed him past Jason Parkinson’s total of 171 set in 2003-07.

Junior guard Elijah Knox explained what it’s like watching Barragan when he gets on streak like he is right now.

“It’s amazing to watch,” Knox said. “It’s not like he is wide open when he is making these, he shakes down his man and hits them; it’s amazing.”

Next up for the Storm is Central College who brings in a 12-1 record to Cowles Fieldhouse.

“This is the best team in the conference,” senior guard Stefon Brown said.

The Dutch are 5-0 in conference play and The Storm is looking to make some more improvements and build off of the win against BVU.

“After watching film we figured out that we weren’t communicating well enough on defense, but if we continue to improve with that we should be fine the rest of the year,” Knox said.