INDIANOLA, Iowa – The Simpson women's basketball team learned Monday that it earned an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship.
Simpson advances to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh-straight season, and makes the 11th trip in program history. The Storm (21-6) will face Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion, Concordia-Moorhead (21-6) on Friday, March 4 at Stevens Point, Wis. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.
Simpson owns an 8-10 overall record in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, the Storm earned the Iowa Conference's automatic bid to the tournament. They upset 19th-ranked Chicago 66-53 in the first round before losing to host Illinois Wesleyan, 83-53. This is Simpson's first at-large bid since the 2007 team advanced to the Sweet 16.
The Storm earned a share of their fourth-consecutive Iowa Conference regular season title in 2011, the 10th in program history and ninth under 24th year head coach, Brian Niemuth. Simpson advanced to the IIAC Tournament Championship game with the No. 2 seed, but fell to Coe 59-56 in the title game on Saturday, Feb. 26.
The nation's second-highest scoring team during the regular season, Simpson averaged 82.2 points per game despite featuring only one player averaging in double figures. Junior center Stacey Schutjer, a 2010 WBCA Honorable Mention All-American, leads the team with 12.9 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds per game. She ranks 10th in the nation in shooting percentage, hitting 58.3 percent of her shots.
A two-time, second team all-conference pick, senior Amy Hamilton averages 9.9 points a game. She became the 13th player in program history to surpass the 1,000-point plateau in 2011 and set a school record for 3-pointers in a career, making her 237th in the IIAC Championship game.
A tough team defensively, Niemuth's squad is second in the nation with 16.4 steals per game. Tandem point-guards Darrina Bledsoe and Kelsie Reeves lead the team in that department, averaging 2.6 and 2.2, respectively.
The regular-season runner up in the MIAC, Concordia beat top-seeded St. Thomas 71-61 in the tournament championship game to earn the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Erica Nord leads the Cobbers with 13.7 points per game, followed by Maggie Bauernfeind with 12.1.
The winner of the Concordia/Simpson game meets the winner of UW-Stevens Point and St. Norbert on Saturday at 7 p.m.