Story by Wade Steinlage, William Penn Sports Information
OSKALOOSA, Iowa -- Feb. 9, 2013 will go down in William Penn (Iowa) men's basketball history as the day that gave the Statesmen potentially their first No. 1 ranking ever with a dominating 98-68 Midwest Collegiate Conference victory over No. 7 Mount Mercy (Iowa).
Oh, and the win also locked up a share of the Midwest Collegiate Conference (MCC) regular season crown, the eighth in program history (fourth since joining the MCC). The second-ranked Statesmen (26-1, 10-0 MCC) will be the No. 1 seed in the MCC Tournament two weeks from now, but more noteworthy, they will likely be #1 in NAIA Division II on Tuesday after current #1 Eastern Oregon's loss to College of Idaho Friday night.
The NAIA's Game of the Week was hotly-contested in the first 20 minutes with the teams battling through eight lead changes and eight ties. The hosts went ahead for good at 40-38, though, on a buzzer-beating fast-break layup by Lamonte Jenkins (Fr., Lake Charles, La., Business Management).
On Senior Day, the Statesmen seniors came up with plays that only seniors make. Both squads hit a trifecta in the first 1:27 of second-half action, but then William Penn pulled away with 12 unanswered. Mount Mercy (23-4, 8-2 MCC), who was limited to 26.2% shooting in the second half, was never within singled digits again. The Statesmen outshot the visitors 44.6%-32.1%, including producing a 47.5% clip in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Brandon Beasley (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind., Physical Education) topped all participants with 28 points, including 19 in the second half. He netted his tenth double-double by also pulling down a game-high 15 rebounds. The senior added to his amazing afternoon by posting six assists, six steals, and three blocks as well.
As one can figure, Beasley was not the only successful player in the navy and gold as four of his teammates also reached double figures.
Keith Steffeck (Sr., Marion, Iowa, Physical Education) matched Beasley with his own double-double (his seventh) of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Fay (Jr., Hennepin, Ill., Education) paced all bench players with 16 points, while James Devlin (Sr., Tampa, Fla., Sociology) and Taylor Stoutner (Sr., Keota, Iowa, Physical Education) added 12 and ten points, respectively.
Blake Walker (Jr., Rose Garden, Ga., Physical Education) was just shy of a double-double, scoring eight points with ten rebounds. He also joined Beasley with six assists.
Winners of 12 in a row, William Penn not only slowed the Mustang offense, but did so with authority by compiling nine blocks. Steffeck managed four of those rejections.
The Statesmen edged Mount Mercy in rebounds (56-50) in a game that witnessed 42 turnovers (20 by WPU). William Penn was fortunately a bit more opportunistic with those mistakes with a 25-13 advantage in points off turnovers. The charity stripe was a bit kinder to the home team as well (WPU was 23-of-29; MMU was 13-of-26).
"I am very happy for our entire team," Head Coach John Henry said. "These guys deserve this day! I thought the atmosphere was electric and was everything we expected for the NAIA's Game of the Week!"