WPU Claims Ugly Win Against Mount Mercy
Oskaloosa–Few times will a team make fewer than 30% of its field-goal attempts and walk off the court victorious, but the Statesmen men’s basketball team lived in rarified air with a 73-67 decision over Mount Mercy in Midwest Collegiate Conference play Saturday.
The Statesmen (13-7, 3-2 MCC) shot just 26.0% from the field (24.2% in the second half), but rallied from down 11 points to take the rematch of last year’s conference tournament final. The Mustangs (10-13, 2-3 MCC) were also poor from the field at only 33.8%.
The home team seemed quite comfortable early on, pulling out to a 17-6 advantage just 5:58 into the afternoon. By the 3:52 mark, WPU had doubled up its foe 34-17, but the remainder of the opening period belonged to the visitors with much of the work done at the free-throw line. Mount Mercy had 20 free tries in the first half, compared to ten for the Statesmen, helping the visitors cut the margin to 36-32 at the break.
It got much worse before it got better for WPU. Up 42-36 with 18:05 on the clock, the Statesmen witnessed MMU go on a 20-3 run to lead 56-45 at the 11:16 juncture.
Bruised and beaten, the Statesmen refused to wave the proverbial white flag and slowly chipped away. Something finally clicked with 7:36 left when Logan Alexander (So., Eddyville, Iowa, Undecided) connected on two free throws to pull WPU within five at 60-55. The hosts fed off that and took the advantage for good at 66-64 on a three-pointer by Roberts Baltruns (So., Riga, Latvia, Business Management).
Marc Wilson (Sr., Los Angeles, Calif., Physical Education) made only one shot in the matchup, but it was a huge one as he drained a three-pointer on WPU’s next possession. The Statesmen were less than effective at sealing the win at the charity stripe, however, going just 4-for-10 in the final 1:09. A pair of turnovers highlighted a solid defensive effort that made up for the free-throw struggles as MMU could only get as close as two points.
Baltruns, with five three-pointers, and Kelly Madison (Jr., Des Moines, Iowa, Physical Education), with four, each posted 15 points. William Penn made 11 trifectas, while the Mustangs were limited to only one from behind the arc (1-for-24).
Alec Schwab (Jr., Peru, Ill., Business Management) tallied 13 points and Wilson had 12, including a 9-for-12 free-throw showing. Blake Walker (Sr., Rose Garden, Physical Education) missed the mark with eight points, but also added nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Schwab had a squad-high four steals.
Although only contributing six points Saturday, everyone in attendance can agree that without Erik McGee (Jr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Elementary Education) and his career-high 17 rebounds (ten offensive), the Statesmen rally would have likely stalled out. The junior, who also blocked two shots, pulled down ten of his boards in the second period, including six on the offensive glass. He was the only WPU player to make at least half of his shots (2-for-4).
William Penn owned a 60-53 rebounding edge. Both programs turned the ball over 16 times.
The foul discrepancy switched in the second half with WPU getting 30 free attempts (24-for-40 overall) and MMU being held to only nine (18-for-29 overall).
“We could have folded down 11 points in the second half,” Head Coach John Henry said. “Fortunately, we regrouped and got a tough win. I am very proud of our resiliency today.”
“The Osky kid (McGee) was a beat today!” Henry added. “He has been our most consistent player all year so far and we could not have done it without him.”
Next: William Penn travels to Des Moines Wednesday to face Grand View in MCC action at 7:30 p.m.