DUBUQUE — The William Penn men's basketball team won a thriller on Wednesday, defeating the Clarke Pride 89-88 on the road. The Statesmen, who were just named the second ranked team in the nation in the latest poll, now sit at 15-1 on the year with a 7-1 mark in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
Kevion Blaylock (Sr., Houston, Texas, Information Technology) got the scoring started for William Penn with his first two baskets of the game. Q Cager (Sr., Hopkinsville, Ky., Wellness and Recreation) added a three-point play, but Blaylock continued to pour it on. He accounted for 13 of the team's first 18 points of the game, but Clarke stayed on top early on, leading 22-18.
Newly into the game, Frederick Jackson (Sr., Killeen, Texas, Interdisciplinary Studies) quickly made his presence felt with six points in three minutes, but the Pride extended their lead up to 10. The Statesmen still trailed late into the first half, but a three from Malik Edwards (Fr., Drexel Hill, Pa., Business Management) and a quick jumper from Chanze Cruesoe (So., St. Louis, Mo., Business Management) trimmed the lead to just four entering the break. Blaylock led all scorers through the first 20 minutes with 17 points.
The hosts got off to a quick start out of halftime, but a triple from Josh Watkins (Sr., Chicago, Ill., Sports Management) got the Statesmen on the board in the second stanza. Blaylock followed with a three, and Cruesoe converted on a three-point play to bring the deficit to six. Blaylock hit another jumper to give the navy and gold their first lead since the score was 11-10.
William Penn extended their lead to eight, but the Pride went on a 10 point run to retake the lead by two. Another run gave Clarke an eight point lead with under five minutes to play, but the Statesmen took the momentum right back. An offensive rebound and bucket from Muneer Newton (Fr., Philadelphia, Pa., Business Management) and three free throws by Malyk Thomas (Sr., Copperas Cove, Texas, Sports Management) cut the deficit to three, then Watkins cut it down to one. Blaylock and Thomas each hit jumpers to give the Statesmen a three point lead, with 2:41 to play.
The Pride hit a jumper to cut the lead to one, then with seven seconds left, a foul sent the hosts to the line. Both free throws were converted, and the Statesmen had seven seconds to take the lead. Cruesoe got the inbounds pass, and he took it all the way down the court, pulled up from the baseline with a floater, and got the roll to go with 0.8 on the clock. Clarke's last ditch effort fell well short, and the Statesmen had won on yet another last second shot.
Blaylock led all scorers with 31 points. He also added 15 rebounds, turning in his second straight double-double. Cruesoe finished with 10 points, including the game-winner, while Thomas and Watkins each reached double-digits with 10 apiece.
Edwards added nine points off the bench, and Newton played a big role with eight points and eight boards as well.
"This was a really good basketball game tonight," said Head Coach John Henry. "Both teams battled, we simply made one more play than they did on Chanze's final shot.”
"Kevion Blaylock could not be stopped and he played all forty minutes," he added. "Our rebounding was awesome and we showed fight.”
What's Next: The Statesmen will be back in Penn Gymnasium on Saturday for a matchup with the Baker Wildcats. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.