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William Penn (Iowa) Posts Signature Win by Upsetting No. 5 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)

William Penn WBB

Story courtesy William Penn (Iowa) Athletics 

Olathe, Kan.--The Statesmen women’s basketball team recorded arguably the biggest win in decades for the program as it upset #5 MidAmerica Nazarene 55-50 in Heart of America Athletic Conference action Saturday.

With the win, WPU (19-5, 13-2 Heart) has put not just the Heart, but the entire NAIA on notice that it is a legitimate contender.  In need of a big win to solidify their ‘resume’, the navy and gold got it against the Pioneers (20-4, 12-3 Heart) as they stay tied with Central Methodist for the league lead.

William Penn won its sixth game in a row with excellent defense, a few timely buckets, and a huge edge at the free-throw line.

The visitors were put on their heels early, trailing 10-3 just 4:40 into the afternoon.  They regrouped, though, with a 13-2 run and eventually led 18-15 after 10 minutes of play.  MidAmerica Nazarene hit just 35.7% of its field goals in the first, but as shocking as it may seem, that was the team’s best quarter shooting the ball.

The Statesmen pushed the edge to nine midway through the second period, but the hosts produced a rally of their own to take a 32-29 advantage into the locker room.

WPU roared out of the break with the first eight points to go up 37-32, but could not pull away as the programs entered the last stanza knotted at 39-all.

In a matchup that featured seven ties and five lead changes, the seventh tie was forced by the Pioneers at 43-43 with 5:53 to go in regulation, while the fifth lead change came courtesy of Sarah Hansen (Sr., Kewanee, Ill., Psychology) on a three-pointer on the next possession.

Kate Ylitalo (So., Maple Plain, Minn., Biology) then matched Hansen with another long bomb the next time William Penn had the ball.  A pair of empty possessions kept it at a six-point margin, but the home team narrowed it to three at the 3:36.  They would fortunately not be able to draw any closer as the victors made six of their last eight free throws to seal the win.

In what was the most telling of any of the statistics, WPU went to the line 29 times (made 18, 62.1%), while MidAmerica Nazarene shot just nine free throws.

Few times will a team be able to say they shot 27.8% from the field and still defeated a top-five program, but that is exactly what the Statesmen did Saturday.  Fortunately, the Pioneers did not fare much better at just 32.2%.

William Penn won the rebounding battle 47-39, but was outscored 13-6 in second-chance points.  The Statesmen also committed one more turnover (17-16), but they were much better from deep by holding a 38.9%-22.2% advantage.

Hansen finished with a game-high 21 points, including burying four shots from the perimeter and also connecting on seven free throws.  Ylitalo joined her in double figures with 10 points.

Sham Troupe (Jr., St. Louis, Mo.) was next with eight points, while JeAnn Hiraldo (Sr., Frisco, Texas, Industrial Technology) headlined the bench personnel with six points.

Vashti Nwagbaraocha (Jr., Milwaukee, Wis., Exercise Science) got into foul trouble and did not play much of a factor on offense with only two points, but she was integral on the boards with a contest-best 11 rebounds.  Tyra Johnson (Jr., Calumet City, Ill., Undecided) was big on the glass as well with 10 boards.  She was also tremendous on defense with five blocks and two steals.

Jenna Santi (Jr., Oak Creek, Wis., Sports Management) assisted six times in Saturday’s upset.

“We showed a lot of determination and grit today,” Head Coach Steve Williamson said.  “We made plays with our hustle and defense.  Our bench was huge today as well, highlighted by Tyra and JeAnn.  Sarah and Kate also knocked down some big shots when we need them.”

Next Up: William Penn travels to Canton, Mo. next Wednesday to face Culver-Stockton in Heart action at 5:30 p.m.

Championship Information

NAIA DI Women's Basketball Championship
Sports Rules - Basketball DI (W)