Navy and Gold Rallies for 61-60 Win Over St. Ambrose
Oskaloosa–The William Penn women’s basketball team fought off two good looks in the game’s final possession to avenge its only Midwest Collegiate Conference loss with a 61-60 win over St. Ambrose Saturday.
The Lady Statesmen (15-7, 6-1 MCC), who have won six in a row, finished January 7-1 and are winners of nine of their last ten games since being 6-6 on December 17. The program’s last loss came against St. Ambrose on January 5.
The hosts trailed 8-2 early, but battled back with nine straight for their only lead of the first half. The Queen Bees (17-5, 4-3 MCC) went up by as much as 12 at 29-17 and eventually settled for a 29-22 halftime advantage. William Penn only hit 27.6% of its first-half tries.
St. Ambrose continued to hold an edge of at least four points through the first ten minutes of the final stanza. The Lady Statesmen fortunately tallied seven in a row to knot the game at 45-45. They then tacked on six of the next eight points to lead by four, but could not stay on top for long.
The visitors retook the lead and were in strong position for the win after a pair of free throws gave them a 60-56 margin with 1:03 left on the clock.
Never flinching however, William Penn answered as Janay Pritchett (So., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Biology) successfully converted a three-point play on the other end just nine seconds later. The sophomore finished with a team-best 17 points.
A missed Queen Bee jumper gave the home team the ball back for the final time. With 19 seconds left, Orielle Thomas (Sr., Waynesville, Mo., Physical Education), spun into the lane and knocked down a go-ahead jumper. She finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds (13 boards in the first half) for her tenth double-double of the season.
St. Ambrose called a timeout, but failed to execute its play as the Lady Statesmen averted a jumper from the baseline and a layup off a weak side offensive rebound. Sam Abens (Jr., Knoxville, Iowa, Physical Education) came away with the loose ball as the buzzer sounded. The junior tallied eight rebounds, including the final two of the game, in addition to squad highs in assists (4) and steals (2).
Both sides struggled from the field with William Penn posting a slight edge, 38.6%-37.9%. They both managed 41 rebounds, but the hosts did a bit better in regards to second-chance points (11-7). Fifteen Lady Statesmen turnovers (13 for SAU) put WPU in a 17-12 hole in points off turnovers, but a 14-8 advantage in made free throws countered that.
Sarah Martin (Sr., Anthem, Ariz., Physical Education), with ten points, and Megan Evangelista (So., Chanhassen, Minn., Biology), with seven points, also contributed offensively.
“This was a great win for our program and puts us in a great position as we start the second half of the league season,” Head Coach Mike Brown said. “The tight games we played back in November helped us win this game. We knew what to do in the end and came up with the big plays we needed.”
“We got down on ourselves in the first half, but our second-half optimism was what really allowed us to get back in it,” Brown added. “Janay and Orielle were great all afternoon and Sarah and Orielle’s defense on that final play was tremendous.”
Next: William Penn is idle for Wednesday’s set of league games, then travels to Dubuque next Saturday to face Clarke in MCC action at 1 p.m.