Strong Finish Helps William Penn Escape with Road Win
Kansas City, Mo.–The Statesmen men’s basketball team was up against the wall midway through the second half, but an impeccable finish allowed the squad to yet again hit a milestone as it defeated Avila 83-65 in Heart of America Athletic Conference action Saturday.
#1 William Penn (20-1, 10-1 Heart) which has won nine in a row, has now reached the 20-win plateau for the sixth-straight year and the 11th time in the last 14 years.
The navy and gold will not only retain their top rating come Tuesday’s new NAIA poll, but due to rival Grand View defeating Peru State, the Statesmen now have a two-game lead in the Heart with eight left to go.
As so many foes have done this winter, Avila (10-9, 4-7 Heart) did not make it easy for WPU, though the visitors may thought another cake-walk was in order as it bolted out to a 13-2 edge less than three minutes in.
The Eagles took the blows and bounced back, however, eventually claiming their first lead at 25-24 with 7:39 to go until halftime. The visitors recovered, though, and went back on top 37-32 at the break.
A similar script was played out in the second stanza with William Penn extending its advantage to double digits before AU reeled it back in and took the lead back at 54-53 with 11:21still on the clock.
William Penn, which was held to its lowest point total of the season, called a timeout and obviously figured everything out because it scored 13 straight over the following four minutes and cruised to the win by outscoring its host 30-11 down the stretch.
The victors, courtesy of a 54.8% clip in the second half, outshot Avila 44.4%-40.6%. They also held a 46-27 mark in rebounding, including 20 offensive rebounds. That advantage assisted WPU in claiming a 20-8 edge in second-chance points.
The Statesmen committed two more turnovers (16-14) than the Eagles, but were better at taking advantage of their extra opportunities with a 21-13 edge in points off errors.
JC Washington (Sr., Houston, Texas, Sociology) and Dominique Shaw (Sr., Lufkin, Texas, Wellness and Recreation) topped WPU with identical double-doubles of 19 points and 12 rebounds. Washington, who was 9-for-13 from the field, also stole three passes.
The duo of Aakim Saintil (Sr., West Orange, N.J., Business Management) and Corbin Medley (Sr., Rogersville, Mo., General Accounting) were also in double figures with 11 points each. Saintil dished out six assists, while Medley guided the perimeter game with three three-pointers.
D’Angelo Allen (Jr., Dallas, Texas, Wellness and Recreation) just missed the mark with nine points; the junior also had two blocks. Terrell Thompson (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind., Wellness and Recreation) added seven and Jovontae Carleton (Jr., El Cerrito, Calif., Sociology) contributed five along with a trio of thefts.
The Statesmen experienced a poor afternoon at the charity stripe (57.1%), but AU was not much better at 60.0%.
“This was not our best performance of the year, but winning road games in this conference is a tough task and we did that today,” Head Coach John Henry said. “Corbin and Jovontae were great off the bench, especially in the second half when we needed a spark.”
Next Up: William Penn travels to Cedar Rapids next Wednesday to face Mount Mercy in Heart action at 7:30 p.m.
Stellar First Quarter Leads WPU Past Eagles
Kansas City, Mo.–The Statesmen women’s basketball team sprinted out to a big lead and held off any and all challenges by its foe to claim a 72-58 Heart of America Athletic Conference win over Avila Saturday.
William Penn (15-5, 9-2 Heart) remains in a tie for the overall lead in the Heart (also three games up in the North Division) as it outshot the Eagles 43.1%-39.6%.
The navy and gold held down one of the hottest teams in the league; AU (6-9, 5-6 Heart) had won five in a row prior to a tight loss to #6 MidAmerica Nazarene Wednesday.
The visitors knocked the hosts off their game early with the day’s first five points. It only got better as the advantage grew to 13 points by quarter’s end at 20-7 with the Eagles being limited to 15.4% from the field in addition to four turnovers (WPU was at 44.4% and only one turnover).
The second period was WPU’s weakest, but even in that, Avila was only able to close to within nine once as the halftime score showed the Statesmen still up 36-26.
Although it never really ran away with it, William Penn was also never threatened as Avila was unable to get closer than nine points during the latter half.
In addition to their plus shooting, the navy and gold were also able to claim the road win because of ball control. WPU committed only eight turnovers, while claiming 16 takeaways which led to a 12-2 edge in points off turnovers for the victors.
It was a balanced attack for William Penn with eight different players scoring and five recording at least seven points. Sarah Hansen (Sr., Kewanee, Ill., Psychology and Human Services) connected on three of her squad’s eight three-pointers as she scored a team-high 19 points. The senior was one of three Statesmen with a pair of steals.
Kate Ylitalo (So., Maple Plain, Minn., Biology) also knocked down a trio of trifectas en route to her 14-point showing, while JeAnn Hiraldo (Sr., Frisco, Texas, Industrial Technology), who provided big minutes off the bench, tallied 12 points.
Vashti Nwagbaraocha (Jr., Milwaukee, Wis., Exercise Science) joined the double-digit club with 11 points, while also guiding WPU with eight rebounds and two blocked shots. The navy and gold overcame being outrebounded 29-27.
Tyra Johnson (Jr., Calumet City, Ill., Undecided) accounted for seven points in a non-starting role, while Jenna Santi (Jr., Oak Creek, Wis., Elementary Education) was superb in the distribution game with eight assists alongside four points.
William Penn also overcame finishing just 57.1% at the line.
“I thought we played 30 minutes of really good basketball,” Head Coach Steve Williamson said. “Our guards played very well and knocked down some big shots. We got great minutes from JeAnn off the bench today and that needs to continue as we are a bit short-handed at the moment.”