Strong Start Not Enough to Lift WPU Over Cougars in 2020-2021 Opener

Columbia, Mo.–The William Penn women’s basketball team eagerly took to the court for the first time Wednesday, but landed a bit shy of a big win as it fell 75-68 to #21 Columbia in non-conference action.

The new-look Statesmen (0-1), with just three returners on the roster, were led by two of those veterans, but could not get past the perennial national power which improved to 2-0 on the young campaign.

The navy and gold sprinted out of the gate. Despite not winning the opening tip, the visitors forced an offensive foul and then Bailey Reardon (So., River Falls, Wis., Elementary Education) scored on the first shot of the night.

The sides exchanged buckets before WPU rattled off seven consecutive points for an 11-6 advantage. Led by 13 first-quarter points from Brittany West (Sr., Shakopee, Minn., Sports Management), the Statesmen continued to attack, scoring 27 points in the first stanza (61.1% from the floor) and holding a six-point edge.

Columbia reversed the fortunes in the second period, posting 12 unanswered and eventually managing a 19-4 run. William Penn closed out the half on a strong note, though, and trailed by only one at 38-37 entering intermission.

A three-pointer by Caroline Hoppock (Jr., Olathe, Kan., Biology) just seconds into the third quarter put the Statesmen back on top. They managed to keep the home squad at bay for a few minutes, but another 12-0 Columbia run gave it the lead for good.

Although it fell behind by as many as 10 points twice in the final period, William Penn never surrendered. Eight straight points, highlighted by trifectas from West and Breanna Wendland (Jr., Richfield, Minn.), pulled the visitors to within two at 63-61 inside of four minutes to go.

The contest remained tight until the very end with a layup by Kirk getting the Statesmen as close as one at 68-67 with 1:06 on the clock.

Unfortunately, the Cougars answered with a three-pointer and then produced a stop on the other end. They were then able to ice the win with four free throws down the stretch.

After the hot start, WPU cooled to 39.1% from the field, while CC won the battle at 41.0%. The Statesmen were far better from behind the arc at 41.2% on 7-for-17 shooting (CC was 20.0%). West led the perimeter charge with a 4-for-8 showing en route to a team-best 16 points.

The game was won at the charity stripe, however, with William Penn making just 7 of its 15 tries, while Columbia excelled at 22-for-27. Reardon finished with 15 points, but really had to work for her tally, going 7-for-22 from the field and 1-for-4 from the line.

The sophomore pulled down eight rebounds, one shy of the team lead of nine held by Jakayla Kirk (Fr., Florissant, Mo., Sociology). The duo guided the Statesmen to a 44-38 rebounding edge, including a 19-12 win on the offensive glass (12-8 advantage in second-chance points). Kirk scored 12 points as a non-starter; the visitors tallied a 20-9 margin in bench scoring.

WPU did not fare well in ball control with 23 turnovers, compared to 14 mistakes by the Cougars (CC outscored the Statesmen 14-8 in points off turnovers).

Morgan Terry (Jr., Cornersville, Tenn., Biology) contributed eight points, while Hoppock and Zantasia White (Jr., Lubbock, Texas) were good for six apiece and Wendland added five more. Hoppock and Wendland also each ended the outing with six assists as William Penn was playing without starting point guard Maci Kuchta (Fr., Columbia, Mo., Biology).

“We played with a lot of effort tonight against a very good team,” Head Coach Steve Williamson said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win, but did not make plays when we needed to. We have a lot to work on the next few days and hopefully we can get some of our injured players back on the court soon.”

Next Up: William Penn travels to Atchison, Kan. Saturday to face Benedictine is its Heart of America Athletic Conference opener at 5 p.m.

Posted by on Nov 12 2020. 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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