It would be hard to believe the drama decreases the futher a team goes in a tournament, but that’s exactly what happened to the William Penn men’s basketball team on Monday.
After their wild last-second victory to reach the NAIA Division II semifinals, the Statesmen used a big second half to cruise past Grace (Ind.) for a 79-58 victory and berth in the national championship game.
The top-seeded and 34-1 Statesmen, coached by Newton nativer John Henry, will face the No. 2-seeded Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) for the title at 8:05 p.m. tonight in Point Lookout, Mo. The game will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.
After battling to a 36-36 tie at halftime, William Penn surged to a 43-22 advantage in the second. The Statesmen were led by Keith Steffeck’s 18 points, but also had double-digit contributions from James Devlin (17), Brandon Beasley (15) and Kevin Fay (11). William Penn also won the rebound battle thanks to a team-high 12 from Beasley, 11 from Taylor Stoutner and 10 from Steffeck.
William Penn’s appearance in the national championship game marks the first time for any Midwest Collegiate Conference men’s basketball team.