Courier sports staff
---- — Courier sports staff
DUBUQUE — The William Penn women’s basketball team went into Thursday’s Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament Quarterfinal believing it could beat anyone. That confidence drove the seventh-seeded Statesmen to a dominating 79-64 win over second-seeded Clarke.
William Penn (12-17) avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Crusaders (15-15) by owning the first half and cruising to an easy triumph. The Statesmen women will now travel to Cedar Rapids Saturday to meet up with third-seeded Mount Mercy (19-11) in the MCC tournament semifinals. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
The teams split their two earlier contests with MMU winning the first 82-74 in Oskaloosa on January 25 and then WPU returning the favor 63-60 in Cedar Rapids on February 15.
The visitors lost the opening tip, but came up short in little else, including turning two first-minute steals into a quick 5-0 lead. WPU, which never trailed, pushed the advantage to double digits at 18-8 at the 15:21. The sides then exchanged small runs, but a jumper by senior Susan Smith at 12:35 left put the Statesmen ahead by double digits--a position they would remain in the remainder of the night.
Headlined by 15 points from junior Katie Golomski, William Penn was up huge at 52-28 at halftime. Everything went the way of William Penn in the first half as the Statesmen held a 15-2 edge in points off turnovers and a 14-3 advantage in second-chance points.
“We had big-time energy from the start,” William Penn head coach Mike Brown said. “Susan was a great floor leader and Katie was on fire early on. We just played about as good a first half as you can.”
William Penn pushed the margin to as high as 26 early in the second stanza. Clarke fought back to within 15 three times, but never really challenged the Statesmen who overcame committing 17 turnovers after intermission.
Golomski, who finished with 16 points, was joined in double figures by five of her teammates Megan Evangelista, who scored 13 points. Dani Stahle and Alyssa Phillips had 12 apiece. Smith and Jessie Kreuser posted 11 points each as well.
Phillips finished off her second double-double, leading WPU with 12 rebounds as the Statesmen held a commanding 53-27 edge on the boards. Kreuser just missed her own double-double with nine rebounds. Smith was great in all aspects with six rebounds, six assists (team high), two blocks (team high), and one steal.
“This was a huge team win and we are excited to move on to the next challenge,” Brown said.