Knox rises to the occasion in win over Loras
INDIANOLA, Iowa – Hobbled by a sprained ankle suffered in the first half, Elijah Knox made the go-ahead jumper and clinched the win with a pair of free throws in the final minute as Simpson came back to beat Loras, 74-70 on Wednesday night.
Down 70-69, Knox gave Simpson its first lead of the second half when he hit a pull-up jumper from the top of the key with 40 seconds left. Austin Hennings made 1 of 2 in the next trip to the line before Knox extended the lead to 74-70 with five seconds left, putting an end to the Storm's five-game losing streak.
Knox finished with 13 points and nine rebounds and Charles Swain had 15 points as the Storm (5-10, 1-3 Iowa Conference) erased a 17-point, second half deficit.
Connor Mooney and Jake Rutan had 16 points apiece and Mooney made 4 of 10 from beyond the arc for the Duahwks (5-10, 0-4), who lost by five points or less for the third straight game.
Simpson outscored Loras 42-21 in the final 16 minutes and closed the game on a 10-0 run after a lethargic start to the second half.
Down 49-32 with just over 16 minutes left, two free throws by Swain ignited a 13-2 run over the next 3:54. Drew Bentley hit a 3 – one of only three for Simpson on the night – during the run and Olu Rotibi finished it off with a layup as Simpson cut the lead to 52-45.
Simpson pulled within one three times before Knox was able to give the Storm their first lead since the 11:36 mark in the first half.
Leading 33-28 at halftime, Loras came out of the locker room on fire. The Duhawks made their first four shots of the half – including three, 3-pointers – as part of a 16-4 run that spanned 3:12 and resulted in a commanding 49-32 lead.
But Simpson settled down and went on to shoot nearly 79 percent from the field in the second half. The Storm were also helped by an overly-aggressive Loras defense which committed 14 fouls in the second half alone, resulting in 15 freebies for Charles Zanders' team.
Simpson looks to build on Wednesday's success when it travels to Dubuque on Saturday, Jan. 19 to face the University of Dubuque in a 4 p.m. tipoff. The Spartans (11-4, 1-3) lost to Central 61-58 on Wednesday.