Cedar Rapids–Guided by one of, if not the best three-point efforts in school history, the Statesmen women’s basketball team blitzed Mount Mercy 83-59 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play Wednesday.
WPU (16-5, 10-2 Heart) won its third-straight contest by going 13-for-19 (68.4%) from behind the arc and shooting 62.5% overall to complete the season sweep of the Mustangs (6-17, 3-9 Heart). The win, coupled by losses to Baker and Benedictine, leaves just William Penn and MidAmerica Nazarene atop the Heart standings at 10-2.
It is the fourth different winning streak of at least three games this year for WPU.
The teams traded buckets in the opening minute, but then the navy and gold tallied 10 unanswered and led 16-5 after the first period.
Another 10-0 run in the second quarter pushed the edge to 20 points and the rout was on; the visitors eventually went ahead 40-17 by the break.
After shooting only 29.2% in the first half, MMU warmed up to 55.6% in the latter half (43.1% overall), but the Statesmen were even hotter at 66.7%. WPU missed just once from deep following intermission, going 7-for-8 (87.5%).
William Penn was Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of ‘on fire’, led by Kate Ylitalo (So., Maple Plain, Minn., Biology) finishing 7-for-9 overall and 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. The sophomore led all scorers with 19 points.
As incredulous as it may seem considering Ylitalo’s stats, Jenna Santi (Jr., Oak Creek, Wis., Elementary Education) was even more efficient at 5-for-6 (3-for-3 3-PT; 2-for-2 FT) to tally 15 points. The junior also dished out 10 assists to post a double-double.
Sarah Hansen (Sr., Kewanee, Ill., Psychology and Human Services) was not left out of the mix, knocking down half of her eight trifectas en route to 12 points.
Contrary to how her teammates found success, Vashti Nwagbaraocha (Jr., Milwaukee, Wis., Exercise Science) did great work inside for 12 points, while Tyra Johnson (Jr., Calumet City, Ill., Undecided) joined the double-digit scene as well with 11 points off the bench.
Both Nwagbaraocha and Johnson, as well as JeAnn Hiraldo (Sr., Frisco, Texas, Industrial Technology), pulled down five rebounds apiece as WPU topped Mount Mercy 33-22 on the glass. Johnson also matched Ylitalo with a pair of steals.
Morgan Neeley (Sr., Flint, Mich., Exercise Science) sunk seven free throws in the waning minutes to contribute seven points as well.
William Penn overcame three more turnovers (19-16) than Mount Mercy.
“I thought we played as a team tonight, led by five players in double figures,” Head Coach Steve Williamson said. “Our defense set the tone to start the game and we built from there. In addition to our starters, we received a great contribution from Tyra Johnson off the bench. We still need to learn how to play a complete game, but I thought we played really well tonight.”
Next Up: William Penn returns to Oskaloosa Saturday to face Graceland in Heart action at 2 p.m.