CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – A big first half from senior Kate Nielsen and clutch free throws down the stretch propelled the 10th-ranked Simpson women's basketball team over Coe, 70-62 on Saturday afternoon.
Nielsen scored 19 of her game-high 28 points in the first half and brought down seven rebounds on the afternoon. She helped the Storm (18-1, 8-0 Iowa Conference) get out to an early 18-7 lead, scoring 10 of the team's first 12 points.
The Storm got off to a hot start from the field and used big 3-pointers by Nielsen, Nicole Crisp, and Morgan Mauro to fuel a 16-0 run late in the first half. Simpson went 7-for-14 from downtown in the first and took a comfortable 39-21 lead into the break.
Simpson led by as many as 21 in the second half, holding a 50-29 advantage with 14:48 to go in the game.
But the Kohawks came charging back.
While Simpson was stuck at 50 for nearly five and a half minutes, Coe (11-8, 4-4) started creeping back in the game. Led by senior Kayla Waskow and junior Mary Halvorson, the Kohawks mounted a 19-4 run to cut the lead to six.
With 3:31 left to play, a Halvorson free throw cut the Simpson lead to two, 59-57. But the seniors finished out the game for the Storm. Nielsen, Crisp, Chelsie Rohrs, and Kelsie Reeves went a combined 9-for-10 from the free throw line in the final 1:45, putting the game out of reach for good.
Simpson forced 23 turnovers on the afternoon as Rohrs and Reeves led the way defensively with six and four steals, respectively.
Former conference MVP Waskow finished the day with an 11-point, 12-rebound double-double and Halvorson chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds for the Kohawks.
Simpson hosts Buena Vista on Wednesday, Jan. 30 with tipoff set for 6 p.m. The Beavers (7-11, 0-7) host Central on Saturday evening.