Statesmen Nearly Upset #9 Columbia

Oskaloosa–Behind huge performances from Brittany West (Jr., Shakopee, Minn., Sports Management) and Brenda Pennington (Sr., Hammond, Ind., Psychology), the William Penn women’s basketball team pushed a perennial power to the brink, eventually falling 71-68 to #9 Columbia (Mo.) in a top-25 non-conference battle Wednesday.

#25 WPU (2-1) had its home winning streak come to an end at 23 games (last loss was January 20, 2018), but the navy and gold did not go down quietly, having a chance to overcome a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit with one final push.

Trailing 67-54 with 3:47 to go, the Statesmen outscored the Cougars 14-2 to get within one in the waning seconds. The visitors knocked down a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left, leaving William Penn an opportunity to force overtime, but a three-pointer by West went offline and Columbia (1-0) escaped in its season opener.

The Statesmen were outshot 43.6%-38.1%, including a 52.0%-33.3% mark from behind the arc, but the hosts weathered every CC spurt, doing so without the services of injured Bailey Reardon (Fr., River Falls, Wis., Elementary Education) and Haley Mullinnix (Jr., West Branch, Iowa, Sports Management). WPU also overcame a rare rough offensive night by returning All-American Kate Ylitalo (Sr., Maple Plain, Minn., Biology) who was held scoreless.

The heavyweight matchup featured the two sides exchanging big blows all evening. WPU led 18-17 after one quarter and pushed that edge to 21-17 before Columbia responded with a 10-1 run. The visiting squad remained on top 33-32 at intermission.

CC’s advantage grew to seven at 41-34 before the Statesmen rallied to reclaim the lead at 49-46; the teams entered the fourth and final stanza knotted at 49-49. Adding onto the last three points of the third, the Cougars stormed out of the quarter break with 13 straight points to cap a 16-0 run and go up 62-49 with 7:09 on the clock.

Battered and bruised, William Penn refused to concede defeat, even as it was still down by that same 13-point deficit inside of four minutes remaining.

Headlined by a pair of three-point plays, Pennington single-handedly willed her team back into the contest. The senior, who finished with 20 points, scored 11 of those in just over three minutes. She also tallied three steals and an assist during the stretch of incredible play.

On one end of the court, returning First-Team All-American Jordan Alford of Columbia finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists, but Pennington was every bit her equal with 20 points (6-for-11 FG, 8-10 FT), nine rebounds, and eight assists.

Pennington did the work late, but it was West who kept the navy and gold in the game early as she scored 12 first-half points. The junior added another 12 after halftime to pace all players with 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting (all three-pointers). Her eight trifectas are just one shy of the school single-game record.

In the loss, William Penn outrebounded Columbia 38-35 (11-5 offensive), but failed to take advantage of those extra opportunities with a 10-5 deficit in second-chance points. The hosts also committed one fewer turnover than the Cougars (12-13), but again could not capitalize with an 18-11 mark in points off turnovers going to the visitors.

Nyachristmas Puok (Sr., Des Moines, Iowa, Biology) joined West and Pennington in double figures with 10 points in addition to two blocks; she showed off shooting range with an early three-pointer. Autumn Voigt (Sr., Clintonville, Wis., Business Management) added six points to top WPU’s bench scoring, while fellow non-starter Makenzie Pezley (Sr., Keokuk, Iowa, Elementary Education) contributed five points Wednesday.

Both squads were strong at the charity stripe as CC was 10-for-12 and WPU was 9-for-12.

“This was a tough loss,” Head Coach Steve Williamson said. “We unfortunately did not do anything to start the fourth quarter, and you cannot take plays off and beat teams like Columbia. That is a great team we played tonight and they made more plays than we did down the stretch.”

Next Up: William Penn enters an extended break from action, returning to the hardwood next Saturday against Benedictine in Heart of America Athletic Conference action at 2 p.m.

Posted by on Nov 8 2019. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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