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March 12, 2013

Statesmen’s dream season concludes with NAIA title loss

POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — When the top two teams in NAIA meet for the national championship, chances are it will be a back-and-forth affair.

That was the case Tuesday night when top-ranked William Penn faced off against No. 2 Cardinal Stritch in the final game of the 2012-13 season at Keeter Gym.

Neither team had more than a six points and the lead changed hands four times in the first half.

But the second half belonged to the Wolves as they held the Statesmen to just 23 points in the final 20 minutes as Cardinal Stritch won its first national title in school history with a 73-59 victory.

The Wolves (35-3) won the game from the free-throw line as they converted 20 of 25 of their tries from the charity stripe.

The 34-2 Statesmen recorded just eight field goals on 36 attempts in the second half and never regained the lead. They finished the game making 32.4 percent of their shots on 23-for-71 shooting.

William Penn had two players named to the all-tournament team in Keith Steffeck and Brandon Beasley.

Beasley led William Penn with 23 points and eight rebounds while Steffeck had 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. Blake Walker tallied seven points and had eight rebounds.

“This is a special group,” William penn coach John Henry said. “I’ve had some very special teams and this one is definitely at the top of the list. I feel bad for them. My heart is bleeding.

It’s been a wonderful, wonderful ride. It’s sad we had to lose, but Cardinal Stritch is very good. They slowed us down and it was the first time we’ve been held in the 50s. I’m not depressed we lost, but it’s sad it’s over. What’s been a wonderful run it’s been.”

Cardinal Stritch was paced by Darren Moore, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, with 21 points and seven rebounds. Jeremy D’Amico scored 12 points Derek Semenas had 11 points and seven rebounds.

More details can be found in Thursday’s Herald.

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