Hamilton Right at Home at 3-point Line


by Erin Guzman

Early season tournament play is what the Storm women’s team needed to get geared up for the rest of the season.

On the road at Roseville, MN the Storm participated in the Northwestern Tip-off Tournament, where they played a first round match against UW-River Falls.

Fast paced play kept the scores tight in the first half. Simpson led 31-24 over River Falls, but the Falcons answered back. River Falls held a 49-48 lead in just under eight minutes of play. The lead grew to six before junior Mindy Hutchcroft hit two free throws. A three-point shot from senior Amy Hamilton cut the lead to one with three minutes remaining. However the Falcons held on to a narrow four-point margin to give them the victory, 58-54.

Junior Ali Sokol led the Storm in scoring with 12 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Kelsie Reeves and Hutchcroft each contributed nine points each.

Head Coach Brian Niemuth sees this game as a reminder that the Storm still has room to grow.

“We should have won this first game, as we led in the first game with 10 minutes to go…but we scored only six points in the last 10 minutes,” Niemuth said. “We are learning how to play hard for 40 minutes.”

In the second matchup, the Storm went against North Central, where lots of errors allowed for a Storm victory. The Cardinals committed 33 turnovers, which gave Simpson plenty of opportunities to score early. In the first six minutes of play, the Storm took a commanding 20-2 lead and held the gap of 52-13 at halftime.

Sophomore Cathy Kain came off the bench and racked up a game-high 14 point total. Hutchcroft contributed 10 points, while fellow sophomore Jamie Elbert, Hamilton and senior Stacy Schutjer all added nine points. Sophomore forward Kate Nielson also snatched 10 rebounds from the Cardinals.

Niemuth was more pleased with how the Storm progressed in the second matchup.

“We led the whole second game and played much better against a team that is trying to build,” Niemuth said. “I thought Mindy Hutchcroft and Kelsie Reeves played very well, and congratulations to Stacey Schutjer who was named to the all-tournament team.”

The Storm’s tournament play didn’t end once they left Minnesota. Traveling this time to Storm Lake, Iowa, the women’s team made appearances at the Buena Vista Classic after the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the tournament opener, the Storm faced UW-Stevens Point. The Pointers led by one at halftime, but gained a 10-point lead in the second half. Stevens Point then made a 15-6 run over Simpson in the final five minutes of play. Stevens Point took the victory over Simpson, 78-60.

Schutjer claimed a career-high point total of 18 and added six total rebounds. Nielson came off the bench to rack up 10 points in only 15 minutes of play. Seniors Jeni Hegstrom and Hamilton each contributed eight points each.

In the next day of tournament play, the Storm went head to head against Iowa Wesleyan.

Simpson’s outside shooting was crucial to their offensive strike against the Tigers. The Storm shot 50 percent as a team from beyond the arc. Kain a hit perfect 3-for-3 while Hamilton sank four long balls from up court. Simpson used this momentum to carry their offense to a 54-45 margin in the first half. After the half, Simpson kept a 24-point lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the game. The final came to a win for Simpson, 96-78.

Schutjer, for the second game in a row, tallied 18 points. Hegstrom and Hamilton each added 14 points, followed by Sokol and Nielson with 11 each.

For the efforts at the Buena Vista Classic, Hamilton and Schutjer each earned spots on the all-tournament team. Niemuth knows that this tournament, and its competition, can only help to Storm build a better team.

“We played the number three team and the number 12 team in the nation splitting these games,” Niemuth noted. “Our first four out five opponents have been ranked, and it has been a very hard way to start. But I do think we are better for it and hopefully we are mentally tough enough to understand that we are team with great potential. As we are getting ready for our tough conference play I think this brutal schedule will pay off.”

The women’s team opens Iowa Conference play Wednesday, Dec. 1 at home against Dubuque in Cowles Fieldhouse at 6 p.m.