Chanze Cruesoe

Chanze Cruesoe scored 20 points and had seven rebounds in the victory

OSKALOOSA — The William Penn men's basketball team found themselves on the right side of yet another thriller as they defeated the Briar Cliff Chargers by a score of 85-82 on Saturday. The win moves the Statesmen to a perfect 7-0 on the year.

The Chargers got on the board first, but the Statesmen answered quickly with a jumper by Karmari Newman (Sr., Detroit, Mich., Digital Communication)and a dunk from Malyk Thomas (Sr., Copperas Cove, Texas, Sports Management).

The visitors jumped ahead briefly after a couple of baskets, but Kevion Blaylock (Sr., Houston, Texas, Information Technology) helped chip the lead back down to two after five consecutive points. Newman hit his first triple almost seven minutes in, and Reyhan Cobb (Jr., Atlanta, Ga., Sociology) nailed a jumper to give the Statesmen the lead once again at 17-16.

After a layup from Malik Edwards (Fr., Drexel Hill, Pa., Business Management), both offenses struggled to convert their chances. The game went over three minutes with only one Briar Cliff basket, but then the two teams began trading points again.

The Chargers retook the lead once again with just a tick under four minutes on the clock, but Chanze Cruesoe (So., St. Louis, Mo., Business Management) answered right back with a jumper. Thomas and Cruesoe each got another layup to go before the half to help boost the Statesmen to a 39-34 lead at the half. 

At the break, the Statesmen and the Chargers had a similar shooting percentage, but William Penn held a slight lead at 41.7% while Briar Cliff shot 38.9% from the floor. One thing helping the Statesmen was their huge advantage on the boards, as they out-rebounded the Chargers 26-14 in the opening stanza.

The navy and gold opened the second half with layups from Blaylock and Newman, but Briar Cliff answered back quickly with three straight triples, erasing a nine point deficit in a matter of a minute.

Cruesoe, looking to answer, fired up a three, but it missed wide of target and the rebound went toward Briar Cliff. Not giving up on the play, Cruesoe intercepted the first pass from the Chargers and was fouled hard at the rim, but got the layup to go. He hit the ensuing free throw to complete the three point play.

Cruesoe and Blaylock proceeded to combine for eight points in a row, giving the Statesmen an eight point lead. Frederick Jackson's (Sr., Killeen, Texas, Interdisciplinary Studies) first bucket of the game pushed the lead into double figures for the first time as the Statesmen took an 11 point advantage with just under 12 minutes left.

After extending the lead to as much as 14, the Chargers began to chip away. The Statesmen held a 10 point lead with just over five minutes to play, but saw the lead shrink to four after only two and a half minutes.

The Statesmen struggled to put the game away, and Briar Cliff was able to capture a late lead after a layup, taking an 81-80 lead with 33 seconds on the clock. On the ensuing possession, Thomas was fouled, and went to the line and sank two clutch free throws to put William Penn back on top.

The Chargers drew a foul on the other end, but missed a crucial first free throw to ensure that the game could only be tied. The second one was true, but the Statesmen now faced a tie game instead of a deficit.

Following a timeout, Newman took the inbounds pass from Blaylock and dribbled it up the court, he drove down the left side of the court, created space with a behind the back dribble, and let one fly right in front of the Statesmen bench. His shot was good, and gave the Statesmen an 85-82 advantage with only 1.3 seconds left on the clock. The Chargers had one chance for a desperation heave, but it clanged up in the rafters as time expired.

Newman led the Statesmen with 21 points, also contributing four assists. Cruesoe also crossed 20 points on the night, shooting 5-7 from the field and going nearly perfect at the charity stripe, finishing 10-11 in free throws including a number of clutch ones down the stretch. Cruesoe also finished with seven rebounds and four assists.

Blaylock and Thomas each finished with double digit points as well with 16 and 13, respectively. Cobb finished with six points while also grabbing eight rebounds.

"Chanze is such a good player," said Head Coach John Henry. "I hope our fans understand how great he really is. So far this season we've pulled a few wins out that we should have probably lost but we aren't apologizing for it.”

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