Matt Bos-Media Coordinator
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. (Box Score)- Top-seed William Penn (Iowa) used a big second half to pull away and defeat Grace (Ind.) 79-58 in the first semifinal of the 2013 NAIA Division II Men's National Basketball Championship. The 2013 event is being held at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks.
The Statesmen advance to play in their first national championship game in men's athletics.
Keith Steffeck scored a game-high 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, one of two William Penn players to record a double-double. James Devlin scored 17 and Brandon Beasley, the leading rebounder at the championship, scored 15 and pulled down 12 rebounds.
William Penn fell behind by as much as six early but came back with five straight points to tie the game at 21. Grace followed suit with a 10-0 run and had its largest lead, 31-21, after a consecutive baskets scored by Karl Columbus with five minutes left in the first half. The Statesmen sported a comeback of their own, scoring 13 straight points behind the three-point shooting of Devlin who hit a pair downtown to give his team a 34-31 advantage. Grace recovered and tied it at 36 by the break.
The Statesmen scored the first six points of the second half and never trailed again but Grace managed to keep it close for a stretch. Leading by three at 54-51, William Penn put the game away with a decisive 25-7 run over the final nine minutes, using its three-point shooting, athleticism and relentless defense. Back-to-back three-pointers by guard Kevin Fay started the run while Steffeck electrified the crowd with a pair of dunks to give the Statesmen a 66-51 lead. Grace did cut it back to 10 (68-58) but William Penn scored the final 11 points, led by Beasley, who put the exclamation point on the win with a thunderous slam to the delight of the Statesmen fans.
William Penn shot 36% for the game, 28% from beyond the arc (9-for-32) and held a slight 47-42 advantage on the glass.
Grace was led by Greg Miller with 15 points, one of four Lancers' players in double figures. Bruce Grimm Jr. scored 14 in his final game at Grace while both Elliot Smith and Karl Columbus scored 13. Grace shot 31% for the game and ends the season with a 24-10 record.
William Penn improves to 34-1 on the season and will play for the national championship on Tuesday night, March 12 at 8:00pm . They will play the winner of #2 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) vs #11 Indiana University Southeast semifinal. The championship game will be televised live on televised live on CBS Sports Network.