(Oskaloosa, Iowa) — With one of its top scorers unavailable, the William Penn women’s basketball team was in need of someone to step up, and more than just one person answered the call as the Statesmen dropped Graceland 68-37 in Heart of America Athletic Conference action Saturday.
The Statesmen (17-5, 11-2 Heart) have now won a season-high four games in a row for the third time this year. The win helps WPU keep pace with MidAmerica Nazarene and Central Methodist for the league lead.
Sarah Hansen (Sr., Kewanee, Ill., Psychology and Human Services) was out of town for military duty, leaving a sizeable gap to be filled. Fortunately, the hosts once again played tremendous defense and the points came in a variety of ways, most notably from Kate Ylitalo (So., Maple Plain, Minn., Biology) and Vashti Nwagbaraocha (Jr., Milwaukee, Wis., Exercise Science).
All cylinders fired in the opening quarter as William Penn scored 12 of the first 14 points and eventually led 20-5 after one period of action.
The second quarter, for whatever reason, has been a major thorn in the team’s side and it was again on Saturday. The Yellowjackets (5-16, 2-11 Heart) roared back, trimming the margin to eight at 31-23 by halftime.
The third stanza, on the other hand, has been quite kind to the navy and gold, and Saturday was much of the same. The Statesmen recorded the first 11 points of the quarter and blew the contest wide open with a 23-6 edge during that 10-minute span.
WPU cruised from there to complete the season sweep of GU, outshooting the visitors 44.6%-28.2% and outrebounding them 41-26.
While those numbers are impressive, the matchup was really won in turnovers with William Penn forcing 28 Graceland mistakes (18 for the home team). The Statesmen converted those errors into a 37-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
With 11 more offensive rebounds (20-9), the Statesmen also owned a 15-6 edge in second-chance points.
Ylitalo paced the victors with 20 points, including three three-pointers. Nwagbaraocha was right behind her with 19 points; the junior was 6-for-9 from the field and 7-for-8 from the line. Both players excelled on the defensive end as well as Ylitalo recorded six steals and Nwagbaraocha posted four steals and two blocks.
Sham Troupe (Jr., St. Louis, Mo.) contributed eight points along with a squad-best nine rebounds. JeAnn Hiraldo (Sr., Frisco, Texas, Industrial Technology) swished a pair of three-pointers as part of a seven-point effort, while Brynesha Mosby (Jr., Belleville, Ill., Biology) matched her with seven points off the bench as well.
Jenna Santi (Jr., Oak Creek, Wis., Elementary Education) only tallied two points, but coordinated the offense extremely well with eight assists.
The Statesmen overcame a 54.5% clip at the line, while GU made 76.5% of its free throws.
“I am very pleased with our defensive effort and the determination we played with,” Head Coach Steve Williamson said. “We had a balanced offensive effort and players stepped up with Sarah not in the lineup.”
Next Up: William Penn remains in Oskaloosa next Wednesday to host Peru State in Heart action at 5:30 p.m.
Streaks Snapped in Loss to Graceland
Oskaloosa–It had been a very long time since the Statesmen men’s basketball team had lost at home, but unfortunately all good things must come to an end and they did Saturday in a 91-77 Heart of America Athletic Conference setback to Graceland.
#1 WPU (21-2, 11-2 Heart) had won 37 consecutive home games, dating back to January 9, 2016–a span of 756 days (2 years, 25 days). The streak is believed to have been the longest current home one in the NAIA entering Saturday. The navy and gold also witnessed their 10-game overall winning streak also come to a close.
The hosts now lead the trio of Graceland, Peru State, and Central Methodist by just one game in the league.
Ten days earlier in Penn Gymnasium, the Statesmen broke a school record for most points in a conference game, but it was evident early that that performance was not going to be replicated. The Yellowjackets (16-8, 10-3 Heart) refused to participate in a high-scoring affair. They wanted to slow everything down, in fact, not starting most of their possessions until more than half of the shot clock had transpired.
It worked in the beginning minutes with the visitors leading 18-13 at the halfway point of the first stanza. In its last home contest, William Penn had already scored 35 points at the midway juncture. The home squad did warm up and eventually went into the break ahead 35-29.
WPU was being outshot 43.3%-38.9%, but was taking care of business in other ways to stay on top. The Statesmen managed to be in the ‘black’ on Black Out Night, just barely keeping the Yellowjackets at bay.
Graceland, though, could not be slowed down after halftime and took the lead for good at 64-61. The game was tied one final time at 66-66 with 6:48 to go, but the visitors, who shot 70.0% in the latter half, were too much. When the final horn sounded and William Penn’s two massive streaks were extinguished, the navy and gold were outshot 56.7%-42.6%.
WPU also came up short in rebounding at 38-37; GU had only nine offensive rebounds (WPU had 16), but held a 17-8 mark in second-chance points. The hosts also struggled at the line with a 50.0% clip, while the Yellowjackets finished at 71.4%.
“Graceland out-played, out-worked, and out-coached us tonight,” Head Coach John Henry said. “Losing at home is not something that happens to us very often. Graceland beat us today and deserves a tip of the cap.”
Dominique Shaw (Sr., Lufkin, Texas, Wellness and Recreation) got in early foul trouble, but worked past that to have a great offensive outing with a game-high 28 points. The senior made six three-pointers, but WPU shot just 31.0% from deep as a team.
D’Angelo Allen (Jr., Dallas, Texas, Wellness and Recreation) added 12 points off the bench, while Aakim Saintil (Sr., West Orange, N.J., Business Management) also reached double figures with 10 points.
Corbin Medley (Sr., Rogersville, Mo., General Accounting) knocked down a trio of trifectas for nine points, while JC Washington (Sr., Houston, Texas, Sociology) contributed six points. Washington and Allen both pulled down eight rebounds; Washington had two blocks as well. Saintil and Terrell Thompson (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind., Wellness and Recreation) assisted six times each Saturday.
Next Up: William Penn remains in Oskaloosa next Wednesday to host Peru State in Heart action at 7:30 p.m.