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No. 23 Simpson survives Central upset bid

Women's basketball | Dec. 2, 2009

Haley Brillhart to the bucketPELLA—Undersized and shorthanded, the Central College women’s basketball team nonetheless threw a scare into No. 23-rated Simpson College Wednesday before suffering an 88-81 defeat.        

The Dutch, already without injured center Andrea Clark (junior, Guthrie Center), saw their leading scorer, guard/forward Sarah Paulson (sophomore, Ottumwa) go down with an injury late in the first half. She was sidelined for the remainder of the game.

But Central (1-5 overall, 0-1 Iowa Conference), after trailing by 17-7 midway through the first half, was within 34-32 at halftime, then scored the first five points of the second half for a 37-34 lead. Simpson was back on top 54-50 with 10:22 left when Central went on a 10-0 run for a surprising 60-54 advantage with 9:06 remaining. But Simpson answered with an 8-0 spurt to regain the lead. The game was tied for the 17th time at 76-76 with 2:29 remaining when Simpson scored the next five points to take the lead for good.

Central found its spark off the bench. Forward Haley Brillhart (sophomore, Pella) stepped up for the Dutch with 16 points and nine rebounds in just 16 minutes of action. And guard Jordan Waddell (junior, Guthrie Center) had what coach Jerry Nikkel called her best performance with 14 points.

Kelsey Schuring“Haley hasn’t even practiced the last two days (because of illness),” Nikkel said. “But she really put the ball on the floor and took it to the basket.”

Forwards Kelsey Schuring (sophomore, Pella) and AJ Baker (sophomore, Grinnell) each had 10 points.

Simpson was able to use its size advantage for key buckets down the stretch. Simpson’s Stacey Schutjer, a 6-foot-2 center, had 29 points.

Central outshot Simpson 44.8 percent to 37.8 but was outrebounded 47-43 and committed 31 turnovers.

Nikkel, who was disappointed in Central’s showing in an 85-56 loss at Wis.-Platteville Saturday, loved his team’s effort Wednesday.

“We played so aggressively and so physically,” he said. “I thought we really were making a statement with our defense early on.”

The Dutch were aggressive offensively as well.

Dutch D“I thought we really ran well,” Nikkel said. “Every time we had a chance to push it, we did. I told the players afterwards that I’ve waited five years—which is how long I’ve been involved with the program—to see our players attack the basket and draw fouls like we did tonight.”

But Central must continue to show that kind of effort to get its season turned around.

“I told the players, if you go out and that’s the way you practice and that’s the way you play, you’re going to get a ton of wins,” Nikkel said. “But there has to be that mindset.”

Central travels to Waverly Saturday for another league women’s-men’s doubleheader, taking on Wartburg College in a 2 p.m. game. The men’s contest starts at 4 p.m. Central has lost six in a row to the Knights, who are 1-3 and will be playing their league opener Saturday.


Central College