OSKALOOSA — Eddie Daley (Grad., DeWitt, Mich., Master’s of Organizational Leadership), the winningest player in William Penn men’s basketball history, fittingly locked up a historic win for his coach as the Statesmen held off Peru State 86-85 in Heart of America Athletic Conference play Saturday.
The win by the Statesmen (21-2, 17-0 Heart) gives Head Coach John Henry his 500th career win. Steering the ship since the 2001-2002 season, he has an overall record of 500-215 (.699 winning percentage).
One of the great principles Henry has implemented within the program has been that the Statesmen will be strong rebounders and that showed again Wednesday as WPU held a 44-29 edge over the Bobcats (17-6, 12-5 Heart) with 13 of those being offensive boards. WPU was outshot 48.5%-46.9% (42.1%-20.0% 3-PT), but its offensive rebounds led to a 17-9 mark in second-chance points.
Peru State scored the first points of the night, but would not hold the lead for long as William Penn tallied 12 in a row to force a Bobcat timeout. The visitors then made a run of their own to get within two at 12-10. Peru State would claim the edge again at 21-19, but the navy and gold grabbed it right back and eventually led 43-35 with DJ Purnell (So., Minneapolis, Minn., Business Management) scoring on a putback in the final second.
The hosts slowly extended the advantage, going up by a game-high 12 points at 57-45 with 13:33 to go, but could not put the Bobcats away.
PSC drew within one at 79-78 with 4:13 still remaining, only to have WPU make one final push and seemingly put the game out of reach, leading 85-78 coming up on the final minute.
Unfortunately, Bobcat pressure unhinged the Statesmen and the hosts committed three turnovers down the stretch. That opened the door for the visiting crew as it trimmed the deficit to one. Peru State, after the final of the aforementioned WPU turnovers, had the ball in front of its bench with five seconds left. The ball was dribbled along the baseline and then kicked out to an open player for a potential mid-range game-winner.
Then, out of nowhere, Daley, at 6-11, reached out and just got a fingertip on the shot, forcing it to fall harmlessly short of the rim and the Statesmen escaped with its closest call of the season. William Penn’s magic number to clinch the Heart regular-season crown is now just one; either a WPU win OR losses by both Evangel and Baker will allow the Statesmen to claim another league title.
Malik Edwards (So., Drexel Hill, Pa., Business Management) had a big night on the scoresheet with 26 points and five rebounds. He finished 8-for-10 at the free-throw line, while WPU was above average at the stripe at 21-for-29 (72.4%). Conversely, PSC was just 11-for-11 (57.9%).
Edwards’ backcourt mate Chanze Cruesoe (Jr., St. Louis, Mo., Business Management) had a near double-double with 19 points and nine assists, while Muneer Newton (So., Philadelphia, Pa., Business Management) did complete the double-double task with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Purnell had seven points, while CJ Washington (Jr., Houston, Texas) contributed six. Daley was limited in scoring, but tallied 11 rebounds with two blocks.
Despite committing five more turnovers than Peru State at 16-11, the Statesmen actually outscored the Bobcats 17-14 in points off mistakes.
Peru State is super talented with athletes. We’ve struggled with them twice now, but have been fortunate to win two close games verses them,” said Head Coach John Henry. “This season and this team has been extremely fun thus far.”