Wade Steinlage, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
DES MOINES – Men’s basketball renewed their rivalry with Grand View on Wednesday night and never let off the gas pedal. Scoring early and often, William Penn controlled the game to take a 118-93 victory, never trailing in the course of the game. In the process, the team set a new high-score against the Vikings, with the previous high being the 101 points the team scored last year at home. With a fantastic team effort on offense, WPU moves to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play.
Kevion Blaylock (Sr., Houston, Texas, Information Technology) hit the first triple of the night just a few seconds in, as the reigning Heart Player of The Week put WPU up 3-0 early. Nathan Gehring (Sr., Waukee, Iowa) put up his first points after Grand View made their first basket, before he tapped home another on the next possession, as the Statesmen grabbed a 7-2 advantage.
Q Cager (Sr., Hopkinsville, Ky., Wellness & Recreation) delivered a triple to push the navy and gold over double digits just a few minutes in. While the Vikings finally started to score, the lead was soon 17-8 as the Statesmen kept their rivals at an arms distance as the game passed the five-minute mark.
Karmari Newman (Sr., Detroit, Mich., Digital Communication), Ahmad Pender (Sr., Chicago, Ill, Wellness & Recreation), and Ty Majlik-Autry (Jr., St. Petersburg, Fla.) all chipped in but the Vikings would not go away. They whittled the score back to eight before Josh Watkins (Sr., Chicago, Ill., Sports Management) punched home a three to make it 31-20 midway through the first frame.
The score remained stable around 13 points as the navy and gold kept a fast pace going on the hardwood. Brandon Faison (Sr., Charlotte, N.C., Sports Management) nailed a three to further extend the lead, but then GV went on a bit of a run, closing the gap to 42-33. Blaylock then stopped that run with a shot from downtown. That sparked an 8-3 run for WPU as the clock closed in on the end of the first half. Pender was the recipient of a lovely lob on a fast break, as he slammed it back down with authority. Eddie Daley (Sr., DeWitt, Mich., Business Management) then got in on the party with a layup as WPU took a 54-36 lead.
The Statesmen pushed the lead up to 20 before the Vikings got some free-throws in to make the halftime score 58-40. WPU shot 56% from the floor, were 8-8 from the charity stripe, and held a 26-17 rebound edge. Blaylock had 10 points and five boards in the first 20 while everyone else had at least one basket. Gehring was second with nine points while Cager had seven points.
The second half began with a good defensive hold to get WPU the ball, with Blaylock finding Cager with a no-look dish to make it 60-40. GV were forced into an early timeout after a Gehring dunk a few minutes later, as the navy and gold continued to expand the lead.
Each team put up 11 points over the next few minutes, with Cager and Gehring reaching 10 points each. Newman splashed down back-to-back threes to attain 11 points on the night, increasing the lead to 78-56.
The second five did not disappoint either, as Majlik-Autry netted a triple with Watkins bagging another soon after. The halfway point of the second half saw the Statesmen pull away more, with the scoreboard reading 89-63 in their favor.
Watkins and then Pender both passed the 10-point threshold as the offense continued to click. Chanze Cruesoe (So., St. Louis, Mo., Business Management) reached 10 assists as he quarterbacked effectively throughout the game. Newman finally found his three-point stroke as he hit three of them in the second half after missing all four attempts in the first.
The lead was never in doubt and WPU kept inching just a couple more points ahead of the Vikings as the half went along. Thomas Stanley (Fr., Henderson, Nev.) made the bench rise to their feet with a booming three as the final minute ticked by. With six players in double figures, the Statesmen rolled to a 118-93 victory to remain perfect on the year.
The team was a blistering 56 percent from the field and a tick under 40 percent from three-point land. They made 17 of their 25 free-throws while they collected a 52-38 rebound margin.
By dropping the threes in the second half, Newman topped the team with 18 points, with Blaylock right behind at 17. Pender added 11 while Gehring contributed 16. Cager had 12 while adding five assists and Watkins had 10 points. Daley, Majlik-Auty, and Faison were all one basket away from 10. Cruesoe led the way with 10 assists while Gehring had eight rebounds to pace the lineup.
“All wins are good but winning in Des Moines versus the red team is great,” said Head Coach John Henry. “Chanze and Q really distributed the ball well tonight.”
Still on a bit of a road swing, the Statesmen will next play at Culver-Stockton Saturday at 2 p.m.