Marshall, Mo.–Three players eclipsed the 20-point mark and the Statesmen men’s basketball team survived both its first road test and first battle in the Heart of America Athletic Conference with a 92-83 win over Missouri Valley Wednesday.
William Penn (5-1, 1-0 Heart), which has won five games in a row, defeated the defending Heart Tournament champions with superior shooting (47.7%-46.8%) and rebounding (41-33). To claim the victory, the team was forced to overcome serious foul trouble (four starters and a reserve player finished with at least four fouls) and also the absence of key player Steven Roundtree (Sr., Jacksonville, Fla., Physical Education) (coaches decision).
The Vikings (1-2, 0-1 Heart) led by a 6-2 tally 4:04 into a slow-moving contest, but the navy and gold opened it up with a 16-6 run. MVC rallied right back to lead 22-21 only to see the visitors reel off 14 of the next 16 points. WPU’s margin was trimmed to four at halftime, 48-44.
The home squad continued to chip away, eventually claiming a trio of one-point leads early in the second stanza. Fortunately, another pro-WPU stretch followed as a 57-57 tie with 16:13 to go turned into a 69-60 Statesmen advantage with 12:22 still on the clock.
William Penn’s lead ballooned to as big as 14 points before a mini 7-0 Viking run in the final minutes brought them within five with 30 seconds left. The Statesmen, who finished 19-for-26 at the charity stripe, put the proverbial cherry on top with four successful free tries at the end.
Antonio Levy (Jr., Chicago, Ill., Physical Education) owned sharpshooter status Wednesday, pacing WPU with 23 points by going 8-for-12 from the field (5-for-8 3-PT).
He was joined in the 20-point crew by Brady Burford (Sr., Chicago, Ill., Physical Education) and Dondre Alexander (Jr., Iowa City, Iowa, Physical Education), both of whom recorded double-doubles. Burford finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks, while Alexander posted 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Charles Knowles (Jr., Chicago, Ill., Physical Education) added seven points off the bench and Josh Caldwell (Sr., Denver, Colo., Physical Education) contributed six more. Jake Guenther (Sr., Altoona, Iowa, Secondary Education) scored five points in only three minutes of action as well.
Capitalizing on its foe’s mistakes also steered the Statesmen to the ‘W’. WPU had 14 turnovers, but forced MVC into 16 turnovers which were converted in 22 points.
“This was the best we have played all year,” Head Coach John Henry said. “This is a tough place to win; they had a loud and intense crowd. We kept our composure and made plays all night.”
Next Up: William Penn returns to Oskaloosa Saturday to host Avila in Heart action at 4 p.m.
Story provided by Wade Steinlage