William Penn University
CEDAR RAPIDS —
The Lady Statesmen basketball team used a big run midway through the second half to storm past Mount Mercy for a 76-62 Midwest Collegiate Conference victory Saturday.
William Penn (13-7, 4-1 MCC), which won its season-best fourth game in a row, is now tied with St. Ambrose and Grand View at the top of the league standings. Viterbo assisted the Lady Statesmen in their cause by knocking off #18 Grand View 62-55 in La Crosse, Wis. St. Ambrose did not compete in an MCC game Saturday.
William Penn will have a chance to move a step closer to owning the top spot by itself when it hosts the Vikings Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
The game witnessed five ties and eight lead changes in the first 20 minutes with the hosts leading 37-35 at halftime.
Things remained tight until, with the Mustangs (4-17, 1-4 MCC) up 52-51 at the 10:58 mark, the Lady Statesmen started a run that put them ahead for good.
The Lady Statesmen reeled off 13 consecutive points over the next 4:46 of action to lead 64-52. Mount Mercy narrowed the margin to seven at 64-57, but never got any closer to the navy and gold.
William Penn was a bit better from the field with a 41.0%-40.4% shooting edge. A 44-30 rebounding edge and 18 forced turnovers (WPU had 15 TOs) were the more impressive and impactful stats, however, with the Lady Statesmen leading 23-13 in points off turnovers and 14-6 in second-chance points.
Sam Abens, with a team-best 19 points (6-of-10 FG, 4-of-5 3-PT), and Janay Pritchett, with 17 points (5-of-9 FG, 6-of-6 FT), lifted their squad as the only players to hit over half of their shots.
Orielle Thomas picked up her ninth double-double of the year, doing most of her damage on the boards with a season-best 18 rebounds in addition to 11 points. The senior, who was one board shy of her career high, also paced the Lady Statesmen with three steals.
Jessie Kreuser managed nine points, while Vanessa Kieres added six points. Sarah Martin was a major factor at the point by dishing out eight assists.
“This was a great conference road victory,” Penn coach Mike Brown said. “Their man defense gave us fits for a long time and it took us until the final 10 minutes of the game to figure out how to attack against them. Once we figured it out, we got some good things going.”
“Sam really saved us in the first half as did Morgan Evans (Sr., Creston, Iowa, Industrial Technology),” Brown added. “Janay was huge in the second half by making some mid-range jumpers. Jessie and Megan Evangelista were also great in containing their best post player in the second half. Orielle was a monster on the glass.”