|#1 Statesmen Off to NATIONALS as MCC Champs|
|Monday, 25 February 2013 09:22|
The following is a news release from the William Penn Sports Information Office.
Oskaloosa--Midwest Collegiate Conference regular season title. Check. MCC Tournament title. Check. NAIA Division II national title. TBD…but after a 104-81 Statesmen victory over #10 Mount Mercy in Sunday's league tourney finals, William Penn's chances are improving exponentially by the day.
#1 William Penn (30-1) held true to its tourney seed and is expected to retain its top ranking in the NAIA entering nationals in less than two weeks. The final poll will be released Tuesday with the national bracket announced later in the week.
Sunday's victory was a near mirror image to the program's 98-68 win over the Mustangs (27-5) only 15 days ago. The hosts were up by as much as 15 points in the first half, but Mount Mercy rallied with help from Statesmen foul trouble (five players with two fouls at halftime). Both teams had issues from the field prior to the break with WPU outshooting MMU 33.3%-29.4% and holding a 38-33 advantage at intermission.
Taylor Stoutner (Sr., Keota, Iowa, Physical Education) was the top scorer in the first stanza with 13 points, but he really exploded in the second half. The senior was amazing, walking off the court in Penn Gymnasium for the last time with a game-high 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting. All but one of Stoutner's attempts were from behind the arc as his nine three-pointers set a new career best.
Stoutner was not the only hot hand after halftime as William Penn hit 63.6% of its shots, while Mount Mercy was also impressive at 57.7%. The difference came in where the made shots originated. The Statesmen connected on 15 second-half trifectas en route to a final tally of 22 (22-of-44). The total is the second-most in school history (school record is 26 earlier this year).
The Mustangs narrowed the deficit to four twice in the early parts of the second stanza. The visitors were able to stay close for a while with a 25-14 edge in made free throws, but WPU easily countered that with its perimeter attack. Leading by ten at 60-50 with 12:45 remaining, the Statesmen went on a 15-2 run and never led by less than 18 again. The hosts finished with a 47.2%-41.7% edge from the floor.
Keith Steffeck (Sr., Marion, Iowa, Physical Education), with five three-pointers of his own, finished with 19 points. The senior, who also posted two blocks, was one of several players in the navy and gold to battle through foul trouble, doing his damage in just 21 minutes.
Kevin Fay (Jr., Hennepin, Ill., Physical Education) led all bench players with 16 points (three three-pointers), while Brandon Beasley (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind., Physical Education), who missed a good chunk of the evening due to fouls, also reached double figures with 15 points in 19 minutes.
Blake Walker (Jr., Rose Garden, Ga., Physical Education) added seven points and a game-best seven assists, and James Devlin (Sr., Tampa, Fla., Sociology) and Lamonte Jenkins (Fr., Lake Charles, La., Business Management) contributed six apiece.
The foursome of Walker, Beasley, Jenkins, and Ross Howe (Jr., State Center, Iowa, Undecided) all pulled down six rebounds to guide William Penn's 50-34 domination of the glass (eight players with four or more). A 16-5 offensive rebounding edge led to a 19-6 margin in second-chance points.
Both sides controlled the ball well in combining for only 19 turnovers (12 for WPU).
"We are the true meaning of team," William Penn Head Coach John Henry said. "These guys play for each other with one goal in mind. I am so proud of everybody involved--We did it!"
"Having lost 30 games in a season in my first season and now winning 30 games is so surreal," Henry added.