Courier sports staff
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. —
Top-seeded William Penn used a big second half to hold off upset-minded McPherson 71-65 in the first round of the 22nd annual NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship. The 2013 event is being held at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks, Mo.
The Statesmen advance to the second round for the first time in the program’s history, losing in the opening game in its three previous trips to the championship.
After running out to a quick 7-2 lead, William Penn found itself down by as much as six (23-17) in the first half after McPherson forward Joey Powers knocked down a three-pointer with 6:55 left. The Statesmen battled to within three by the break, 28-25.
Coming in as the NAIA’s top three-point shooting team, William Penn went just 3-16 in the first half, shooting 19 percent.
Down by five, William Penn scored nine straight points to open up a 42-38 lead. Back-to-back three-pointers by Samson Shivers put McPherson back up by two (44-42) but a 10-3 run put the Statesmen up for good, 52-47. Brandon Beasley iced the game with free throws down the stretch to put his team into the second round.
Beasley led all players with 23 points and 14 rebounds while Keith Steffeck scored 19 points.
William Penn shot 37 percent for the game and held a 46-32 advantage on the glass.
McPherson shot 32 percent for the game and was led by Adam Bruner with 21 points. Samson Shivers scored 13 points, all in the second half, going 3-13 from beyond the arc.
William Penn moves forward and into the second round with a 31-1 overall record. They will play Bethel (Ind.) on Friday at Noon. The 32-team, single elimination tournament concludes March 12 with the championship game to tip-off at 8 p.m.