Wade Steinlage, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
ATCHISON, Kan. – The Statesmen men’s basketball team had lost its past two contests at Benedictine and tonight’s Saturday night clash once again tested William Penn. The Ravens played WPU hard all night but Kevion Blaylock (Sr., Houston, Texas, Information Technology) was a man on a mission. His double-double led the team, as William Penn fought back from 11 points down all the way back to a two-point victory in the final seconds. The team improves to 3-0 and 1-0 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play.
Brandon Faison (Sr., Charlotte, N.C., Sports Management) picked up right where he left off from the last game, nabbing two O boards and making the first bucket of the night. The Ravens responded with a layup but a tidy feed found Nathan Gehring (Sr., Waukee, Iowa), who scored a basket as the Statesmen went up 4-3. He would add in another on a transition play to push the lead to 6-3.
WPU got a few more on the board before the Ravens made a couple three-point shots to take a 13-12 lead with five minutes gone. Blaylock cut the lead to two with a nice spin move in the paint before Chanze Cruesoe (So., St. Louis, Mo., Business Management) crossed over his opponent and delivered a slick layup to put William Penn up 16-15. The teams exchanged scores over the next five minutes as the second five for the Statesmen kept the team either ahead or down just a couple of points.
The Ravens pushed their lead out to six points after the media timeout midway through the half. The home side made it a nine point advantage with 7:30 before Faison made a layup to bring in back to seven. Q Cager (Sr., Hopkinsville, Ky., Wellness & Recreation) made his first field goal but the Ravens answered with a three, as they went up 36-26. Karmari Newman (Sr., Detroit, Mich., Digital Communication)
made a layup and Blaylock earned two points off a tip to cut the lead back to six.
After the 4-0 run, the Ravens responded with a similar run to again make it a 10-point lead with three minutes to go. As the clock wound down though, the navy and gold found their rhythm, as Blaylock came up with a slam dunk, followed by a nice score by Ahmad Pender (Sr., Chicago, Ill, Wellness & Recreation).
The gap would shrink a little but with the first 20 complete, William Penn trailed at the break 46-37. The team shot 42% from the floor and missed all eight of their three-point shots, though they did lead the rebound battle 25-16, including a 10-3 edge on the offensive glass. Blaylock led the squad with eight points and six boards, with Gehring equaling him with eight points.
The Ravens made a couple of blocks on the Statesmen to start the half but despite the adversity, WPU struck first in the frame, courtesy of a Gehring layup. Josh Watkins (Sr., Chicago, Ill., Sports Management) made his first score on the next possession but the Ravens continued to put up points to keep the lead stable at eight.
Watkins made a deep shot to answer a couple straight threes made by the Ravens. A turnover then saw Cager running the floor for a scoop and score to cut the lead down to 55-48 with 15 minutes remaining. Blaylock and Eddie Daley (Sr., DeWitt, Mich., Business Management) threw down back-to-back dunks to make it a six-point game and force the Ravens to call a timeout.
BC was able to answer over their next few trips down the court but their post players got in some foul trouble. Another Watkins three helped the Statesmen chip away as the lead went down to three with ten minutes to go. Out of a timeout, Benedictine nailed two threes to run out the lead once more but Blaylock sunk two of his own to keep things nip and tuck.
Blaylock then made a huge block as he ran the lane to deny a dunk opportunity with seven minutes to go, but the lead stayed in favor of the Ravens. Just under four minutes to go saw Blaylock collect an offensive rebound and stuff it back as he got fouled. Making the and one cut the lead to two with 3:45 to go. A big call went in favor of WPU as Faison drew a charge to foul out Jayden Temme of BC. Blaylock ended up at the line again to tie the game with 2:24 to go as WPU finally caught up with the Ravens. Faison then fouled out, ending his night with seven points and five rebounds.
Some sloppy play from both sides ended up with Chris Jackson fouling out for the Ravens. Cager sunk both free-throws to give the Statesmen their first lead since mid-way through the first half. The home side then banked one in to take a one-point lead. Cager picked up his fifth foul on the next play, sending him to the bench with nine points, three assists, and four rebounds.
Blaylock took the ball up the court with 30 seconds to go. He drove for the hoop but could not get it to fall. Daley made the foul to stop the clock but the Ravens missed the first free-throw. Collecting the rebound, the Statesmen took a timeout with 18 seconds to go.
Blaylock again took control, found a gap in the defense, and finished while getting fouled. He converted the shot to give the Statesmen a two-point lead. With 4.8 seconds to go, Benedictine flew into the front-court but their buzzer-shot clunked off the rim, as the Statesmen escaped with an 83-81 victory.
It was a dominant night for Blaylock, who scored 26 while nabbing 14 rebounds and one assist. He was 2-3 from downtown and perfect from the charity stripe, going 8-8. Gehring was the only other player to go above double digits, as he ended with 14 points and six boards. Watkins made two threes as well, as the Statesmen only made four all night long. Every player in the game scored on the night for the navy and gold.
“I am very proud of this win,” said Head Coach John Henry. “We overcame a lot and never stopped playing. We beat a very good team tonight, a long way from home.”
Next Up: With the schedule fluctuating, the next game, for now, will be away to Grand View on November 18, 2020.