Simpson survives Dubuque, advances to IIAC final
INDIANOLA - Amy Hamilton scored 13 points and Simpson made 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch to hold off a furious comeback by Dubuque in a 75-73 win in the Iowa Conference Tournament Semifinals on Thursday at Cowles Fieldhouse.
Kate Nielsen finished with 12 points and nine rebounds and Mindy Hutchcroft, Cathy Kain and Stacey Schutjer scored nine apiece for the second-seeded Storm (21-5). Simpson advances to face top-seeded Coe (23-3) in the Iowa Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday in Cedar Rapids.
The Kohawks beat fourth-seeded Loras 54-51 on Thursday, setting up a rematch of last year's IIAC Tournament Final. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. at Coe's Eby Fieldhouse.
Hamilton's free throw with 7:07 left in the game gave her 1,000 career points, becoming the 13th player in program history to reach the milestone. With two 3-pointers on the night, her career total improved to 236, tying the school record set by Carlie Beals in 2008.
Leading by as many as 17 in the second half, Simpson watched sixth-seeded Dubuque tie the game at 63 with 4:12 left in the game. The Spartans (11-16), who knocked off No.3-seed Wartburg to reach the semifinal, used a 16-3 run over a five-minute span to tie the contest.
Mollie Whiting scored 27 points on 10 of 20 shooting for Dubuque. Alia Cook finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Despite being held in check for most of the night, Schutjer - the Storm's leading scorer - got six of her nine points in the final 2 minutes 30 seconds.
After Cook's layup made the score 67-65, Schutjer answered with a pair of free throws. A Whiting jumper with 53 seconds left pulled Dubuque within a bucket again, but Schutjer responded with a tough up-and-under layup that pushed the lead back to four.
Whiting hit her third three of the game with 20 seconds left, making the score 72-70. Darrina Bledsoe went 1-for-2 at the line and Whiting's layup attempt rolled off the rim, allowing Schutjer to hit two more free throws to seal the win.
Simpson went 22-for-26 from the line, including 16-for-20 in the second half.
Notes: Saturday marks Simpson's 10th appearance in the IIAC Tournament Championship game ... since the tournament began, Simpson has only failed to reach the final twice (2004 and 2007) ... Simpson is 6-3 in the championship game ... Of the three times the top seed has failed to win the tournament, Simpson accounted for two (2005 and 2010).