The Simpson Storm women’s basketball team reached the dance for the 7th straight year but fell short in making it to the Sweet Sixteen after falling to UW-Stevens Point 82-75 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Storm won the first round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship after beating Concordia-Moorhead 59-56.
In the first round game, junior Stacey Schutjer led the team with 16 points and 20 rebounds. Schutjer collected her 1,000th point as well as her 508th rebound, turning into the 5th player in program history to reach her 1,000th point and 500th rebound.
“I honestly had no idea I was even close to reaching those numbers, but there is no way I could have gotten there without the help of my teammates,” said Schutjer. “Our 3-point shooters draw a lot of attention outside, which opens it up for me in the lane and our guards do a great job of penetrating and dishing it.”
The Storm went on to the second round to play UW-Stevens Point for the second time this season. Earlier this year, in the Buena Vista Classic in Storm Lake, UW-Stevens Point topped the Storm with a score of 78-60.
The Storm had their work cut out for them with UW-Stevens Point having a record of 25-2, ranked 3rd in the nation and having home court advantage. After battling through the first half and stellar 3-point shooting, the Storm went into halftime down by 3.
The next 20 minutes went back and forth at a quick tempo but the Pointers proved to be too much for the Storm to handle, as UW-Stevens Point took home the victory, 82-75.
“I’m really proud of our team. We fought to the end and never gave up,” Schutjer said.
Schutjer lead all scorers with 22 points. Junior, Ali Sokol, added her first double-double to her resume with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Even though the Storm hopes of making it further in the tournament were cut short, Head Coach Brian Niemuth feels as though there is nothing to be disappointed about.
“I was thrilled with how we went up there to compete,” Niemuth said. “We went up there to win. That was the hardest we have played all year. They really stepped up.”
The Storm won a share of the conference title for the 4th straight year and reached the NCAA tournament for the 7th straight year.
This was not the only loss for the Storm, as they will also lose seniors Darrina Bledsoe, Amy Hamilton, Jeni Hegstrom and Mindy Hutchcroft to graduation. Niemuth knows they will be missed but is still looking forward to next season.
“The seniors were an important part of this team but we have players who will step into their shoes,” said Niemuth. “There are underclassmen ready to step in and assume the leadership we’ll need as well.”