PERU, Neb. — After taking their first loss of the season, men's basketball took another long road trip to take on Peru State for the second time this season. William Penn won 105-81 at home and they once again proved too much for the Bobcats. Scoring 45 each half, the Statesmen left Nebraska with a 90-73 victory, putting the team at 12-1 overall and 10-1 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play.
WPU certainly decided to put points on the board early and often as they vented some of their frustration from the Baker contest. Q Cager (Sr., Hopkinsville, Ky., Wellness & Recreation) got the team on the board with a put-back on the first offensive possession. Ahmad Pender (Sr., Chicago, Ill, Wellness & Recreation), making his first ever start, laid it in on a lead pass from Kevion Blaylock (Sr., Houston, Texas, Information Technology) after that. Cager then added another fast-break score to make it 6-0 WPU with just two-plus minutes gone.
Peru State then battled back over the next few minutes, tying the game twice and taking a slim lead. William Penn staid with them though. Pender soon connected a pass to Eddie Daley (Sr., DeWitt, Mich., Business Management), who finished strong to the rim to put the navy and gold up by one.
From there, the lineup ran on maximum power as they blew the game open. The first phase was a 12-5 run that made the score 28-16 in favor of the Statesmen. To end the half, WPU outscored Peru State 17-7 to take a 45-23 lead into the break. Josh Watkins (Sr., Chicago, Ill., Sports Management), Nathan Gehring (Sr., Waukee, Iowa), Blaylock, Karmari Newman (Sr., Detroit, Mich., Digital Communication), and Brandon Faison (Sr., Charlotte, N.C., Sports Management) all found baskets in the offensive explosion.
The team shot 53% from the floor in the half despite going 1-12 from downtown. They owned the rebound battle 28-11, nabbing 12 offensive rebounds and 16 defensive ones. Blaylock led the team with 10 points while Daley and Gehring each had six points. Pender had four assists to pace the lineup.
The second half started in a similar way to the first, as Cager scored off a fast-break to make it a 24-point lead. Over the first five minutes, the scoring would continue to favor the navy and gold. Blaylock and Newman made a couple baskets to before Cager made another layup to push the lead to 28 points. PSC made a little run but Newman answered a three from the Bobcats to keep the momentum in check. The lead dipped down to 20 with 13 minutes to go but the Statesmen were quick to strick back, as Pender made a good shot to put the lead back at 23.
Blaylock made the score 65-40 before Faison and Chanze Cruesoe (So., St. Louis, Mo., Business Management) returned the lead to 28. Things remained stable for just about the rest of the game. Once again, the Bobcats made a run but they would not get the lead under 20 until the final minute of play. The final score saw the Statesmen win 90-73.
The team shot 51% for the game, went 11-15 from the free-throw line, but made only 5-26 shots from beyond the arc. They controlled the rebound battle all night, with a final tally of 43 (14-O, 29-D) compared to 20 total for the Bobcats.
Unlike the game against Baker, this time, five players for the navy and gold ended in double-digit figures, with two coming up just one basket short. Blaylock led the team with 17 points and nine rebounds. Cager and Pender each had 13 while Newman had 12 and Watkins 10. Pender also had eight rebounds and led the team with five assists.
"Ahmad got his first start of the season and of his career here at William Penn today and he was amazing,” said Head Coach John Henry. "We also rebounded well tonight and got our offensive fast break going much better tonight.”
Next Up: Graceland will come for their trip to Penn Gymnasium for the next game on Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m.