PELLA, Iowa – Kate Nielsen had another 30-point outburst and the sixth-ranked Simpson women's basketball team won a nail-biter against Central, 70-68 on Saturday afternoon.
Nielsen recorded 30 points for the third time this season, leading all scorers. The forward now has 526 points on the season, the fourth-highest total in school history. She went 8-for-14 from the floor, 11-for-14 from the charity stripe and added five steals. However, her biggest play of the game came on the defensive side of the ball.
Down 70-68 with 21 seconds remaining, Central had a chance to tie or take the lead after a missed free throw by the Storm. Kenzie Vander Molen dribbled to the baseline and put up a shot with nine ticks on the clock. But Nielsen was there for the huge block to deny any chance of the game-tying field goal.
After a scramble under the basket, a jump ball was called giving the Dutch possession with just 0.3 seconds remaining. A desperate attempt by Bry Pierce came up short and the Storm (23-2, 13-1 Iowa Conference) survived, extending their winning streak in the series to 24.
Both teams started hot from the field in the second half as Central made 6 of its first 7 from the floor and Simpson made three 3-pointers in the first 3:26 of the period. The Dutch (10-15, 3-11) shot 50 percent (13-26) in the half.
Seniors Nielsen, Nicole Crisp, Chelsie Rohrs, and Kelsie Reeves combined to score 58 of Simpson's 70 points, going a combined 10 of 23 from behind the arc. Rohrs scored 10 points and Crisp and Reeves each scored nine for the Storm.
In a game that saw 13 ties and 12 lead changes, neither team could establish a lead for long. The back and forth game was played in an 11-point window as Simpson's largest lead was eight and Central controlled a three-point advantage multiple times, including the halftime lead, 32-29.
Alyssa Schwartz led a trio of Dutch players in double digits with 16 points. Rachel Evans and Nicole Strasko chipped in 15 and 12, respectively.
With the No. 1 seed in the IIAC Tournament, Simpson has a bye on Tuesday and will host the winner of fourth-seeded Loras and fifth-seeded Coe in the semifinals on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.
Notes: Nielsen's 526 points are the most by a Simpson player in a single season since Laurie Sankey scored 610 in 1983-84 ... Carla Horstman owns the record for points in a season at 657 (1976-77).