Thu, Feb. 20, 2014 - [Women's Basketball]
For the first time since the 2002-03 season, the Loras College Duhawks are the Iowa Conference regular season champions. The Duhawks overcame early shooting struggles and first half turnovers to top the Simpson Storm, 71-57, Wednesday night.
Loras looked to be in trouble early as the Storm jumped out to a 7-0 lead, forcing Duhawk head coach Justin Heinzen to call a timeout just a minute and a half into the game.
Heinzen said the timeout "was simply a "calm down and focus" timeout. We missed a few early assignments and had a few early turnovers so we just had to settle down a bit."
Fortunately for the Duhawks, the timeout proved timely.
Senior Katie Wheeler tracked down an offensive rebound, put it back up, and earned a trip to the line where she converted the three-point play. The put back capped a 9-2 run by the Duhawks, knotting the game at 9.
Simpson halted the Duhawks run, with a 10-4 run of their own to take a six-point lead with 8:55 left in the half.
For the next several minutes, the teams traded baskets before Kaitlin Phillips split the lane to tie the game at 22.
Kathleen Cabrera followed Phillip's lead and took the ball back down the lane for a layup, giving Loras their first lead of the game with a few minutes to go in the half.
Morgan Tersptra's (10 points, 10 rebounds) jump shot hit hard off the back iron before being corralled by Katie Langmeier. Langmeier quickly hit Phillips with the outlet pass who beat the Storm defense back for an easy bucket, and a 26-22 Loras lead.
Once again, Simpson came storming back. MacKenzie Haupt hit a deep three-pointer to spark the Storm's offense. The half came to a close with Simpson on a 9-2 run.
Simpson would start the half by tying their largest lead of the game, 38-31. With an Iowa Conference title on the line and the opportunity to cut down the net at home, the Duhawks outside shots started to fall.
As jumpers from the outside started to find the net, looks opened up for the posts inside. This led to Loras owning a 34-10 scoring advantage in the paint and a 20-7 point edge in second chance points.
While shots continued to fall, and the Duhawks continued to track down the offensive rebound when they didn't, Loras held a 54-46 lead with just over seven minutes left to play.
From that point on, the Duhawks never trailed. They would stretch the lead to sixteen before winning by a final score of 71-57, earning the opportunity to cut down the net on Lillis Court in front of Duhawk Nation.
Duhawk head coach Justin Heinzen is proud of his team's accomplishments thus far, but knows they still have goals to reach.
"This team has accomplished a lot and has really grown since the New Year. Our response will be very important going forward these next two days of practice. We must fight and get a win Saturday, that momentum will be huge going into the tournament" he said.
Loras travels to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to take on Coe College on Saturday to wrap up the regular season.