March 11, 2013

Statesmen slam Lancers to reach NAIA title game

POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — William Penn had some trouble getting going in the first half of its semifinal contest with Grace at the NAIA Division II National Championships Monday night.

The Statesmen trailed 31-21 late in the first half, but went on a 15-5 run to close out the half tied at 36 at intermission.

The second half was all William Penn as the Statesmen slammed the Lancers 79-58, holding htem to 22 second-half points.

William Penn (34-1) will take on either No. 2 Cardinal Stritch and 10th-ranked Indiana University Southeast for the national championship Tuesday night. The championship game tips off at 8 p.m. and will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.

The Statesmen took the lead for good on the opening possession of the second half as James Devlin got a steal and a basket to put them on top for good.

Grace stayed with William Penn, trailing 54-51 midway in the half before the Statesmen go on a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach.

Kevin Fay missed a 3-point attempt, but Blake Walker scored on the offensive put-back. Fay added a 3-pointer for a 60-51 lead to set up a pair of thunderous jams that brought Keeter Gymnasium down.

Devlin threw a pair of alley-oop passes to Keith Steffeck, who slammed home the passes that sent the William Penn crowd into a frenzy. Steffeck also had an offensive rebound for another basket.

Then Brandon Beasley threw down another thunderous dunk that sent the Statesmen supporters into utter chaos and into the title game.

“We are in the national championship. I am really numb,” William Penn coach John Henry said. “This hasn’t set in. The very worst we can do is national champion runner-up. Are you kidding me?

“Our second-half defense was as good as we’ve played all year. That’s the best effort for 20 minutes in the second half that I’ve seen all year.”

More details can be found in Wednesday's Herald.

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