WPU Receives First Blemish Against Peru State

William Penn University Athletics

William Penn University Athletics

by Wade Steinlage

Peru, Neb.–The Statesmen men’s basketball team was able to overcome a large first-half deficit earlier this week, but failed to replicate that effort Saturday in a 100-91 Heart of America Athletic Conference loss to Peru State.

#3 WPU (11-1, 1-1 Heart), which lost for the first time this season, was just three victories away from matching the best start in program history. The squad struggled from the field, especially in the second half, while two technical fouls in the waning seconds of a closely-officiated contest were detrimental as well.

Just as they did Wednesday against Mount Mercy, the Statesmen fell behind big, trailing 34-20 to the Bobcats (4-5, 2-0 Heart) at the 7:59 mark of the opening stanza. The squad eventually sorted things out and a 16-4 run closed the gap to two points a little over four minutes later. WPU went into the locker room down 46-45 to PSC.

The visitors continued their push, going up 55-49 early in the second half, but Peru State would not allow them to get away. The latter period featured five ties and eight lead changes, including the hosts owning a seven-point edge at 77-70 with 7:02 to go.

William Penn caught fire one more time to lead 84-83 with 3:15 remaining and then trailed by only one inside of two minutes on the clock. Unfortunately, in a contest that featured 59 fouls and 76 free throws, four of those charity stripe tosses came via technical fouls on the Statesmen in the last 89 seconds of action. The first pair of tries was part of a four-point trip down the floor that stretched the margin to five, while the second set (another four-point trip) made it a three-possession game and iced the contest.

WPU, which was slowed by 31.6% shooting in the second half, was outshot 47.0%-38.9% overall. The team fortunately recorded a 43-36 edge in rebounding and stayed close with an 18-6 mark in second-chance points.

Unfortunately, the Statesmen struggled in the ball control game with 19 turnovers (17 for Peru State), resulting in a 19-5 Bobcat edge in points off mistakes.

Both crews were impressive at the stripe; WPU shot 80.6% (29-for-36), while PSC hit 82.5% of its attempts. A total of five players fouled out in the matchup with two coming from the Statesmen roster.

With his team’s resources depleted due to foul trouble, Dominique Shaw (Sr., Lufkin, Texas, Wellness and Recreation) took it upon himself to try and get a Statesmen win. The senior finished with a season-high 32 points on 11-for-30 shooting; he also pulled down nine rebounds and stole two passes.

Shaw’s 30 shot attempts are the second-most in school history (record is 33).

Before fouling out, Terrell Thompson (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind., Wellness and Recreation) produced 17 points (9-for-10 FT) and dished out five assists. Mikeal Donaldson (Sr., Columbia, S.C.) was next with 16 points, while JC Washington (Sr., Houston, Texas, Sociology), who also fouled out, reached double figures with 10 points. Donaldson and Washington both had two blocks.

Jovontae Carleton (Jr., El Cerrito, Calif., Sociology) added six points and Brandon Trotter (Sr., Louisville, Ky., Kinesiology) tallied five.

Silver lining from the team’s first loss of the season? William Penn has still not been held under 90 points this season.

“We did not shoot well tonight and our defense was poor at times,” Head Coach John Henry said. “I think this is a big wake-up call for our team.”

Next Up: William Penn closes out the pre-holiday portion of its schedule next Saturday by traveling to Springfield, Mo. to face Evangel in Heart play at 4 p.m.

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