Freshmen fuel comeback, Simpson women edge Coe

INDIANOLA, Iowa – The 11th-ranked Simpson women's basketball team used a huge second-half comeback charge led by the freshman class to top rival Coe 58-56 on Monday night.

Despite foul trouble, Kate Nielsen notched her sixth double-double in eight games, scoring a game-high 16 points to go along with 10 boards. She also had six steals and a block on the evening to lead the defensive effort for the Storm (16-1, 6-0 Iowa Conference).

Nielsen's biggest play came with three seconds left in the game.

A tight game for most of the 40 minutes, the Storm found themselves on top 58-54 with just over one minute remaining. Using high-intensity, full-court pressure, Coe's Lindsey Buckles forced a Simpson turnover and senior Kayla Waskow converted a quick layup to bring the score within two. 

A Buckles block 30 seconds later gave the ball back to the Kohawks with a chance to tie or take the lead. But with three seconds remaining, Nielsen forced a jump ball on Waskow before falling over the baseline and Simpson held on for the thrilling victory. 

Both teams struggled offensively for most of the night. No points were scored for nearly five minutes early on in the second half as the score stalled with a 37-30 Kohawk lead.

Then came the freshmen.

At the 11:30 mark, freshman Maddie Muhlenbruck checked into the game as the fifth freshman on the floor for the Storm. Eight seconds later, Muhlenbruck found Maddie Bosworth who ended the drought with a big 3-pointer, her second on the night. 

During the next four minutes, Muhlenbruck hit back-to-back triples and assisted Morgan Mauro on a third to give the Storm a 44-41 lead, capping a 17-4 Simpson run.

Led by a 15-point performance from last year's conference MVP Waskow, the Kohawks (10-7, 3-3) hung around until the end and had a chance to tie the game before Nielsen's tie-up clinched it.

Nicole Crisp helped Simpson stay in the game early as she scored eight of her 13 points in the first half.

Simpson struggled in the opening half, shooting only 34.6 percent from the field. The home team committed nine turnovers in the period, which led to 19 Kohawk points. Coe took a 30-24 advantage into the locker room.

Simpson hosts Central on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. The Dutch (9-8, 2-4) beat Buena Vista 74-61 on Monday.