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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- William Penn dominated the boards and made just enough plays down the stretch to defeat Mount Mercy, 92-87, in a Midwest Collegiate Conference battle of top-10 teams on Saturday at Hennessey Recreation Center.
The Statesmen came in with a six-game winning streak and a No. 2 ranking in the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll. The seventh-ranked Mustangs had won seven straight, including eight in a row at home this season.
Neither team led by more than four points in the opening half, which ended with William Penn in front, 45-42, after a pair of free throws by Lamonte Jenkins with 27 seconds to go in the first period.
Overall, there were 18 ties and four lead changes on Saturday. Mount Mercy enjoyed its largest lead, 55-51, when senior guard Lamar Wall knocked down a 3-pointer with 15:39 left in the second half. Four straight points by Brandon Beasley and a layup by Kevin Fay quickly put the Statesmen back on top at the 14-minute mark.
The Mustangs tied the game three more times but could never regain the lead. They managed to stay within striking distance and were within one, 88-87, after Wall's fourth trey with 28 seconds on the clock. Fay hit a pair of foul shots 10 seconds later and Mount Mercy got the ball back with a chance to tie.
After a Mustang timeout, Wall dribbled to the right side of floor, gathered himself and leaned into an airborn Statesmen defender beyond the arc. There was contact on the play, but no foul called and Mount Mercy was forced to foul after William Penn gathered the rebound with five seconds to go. James Devlin knocked down both free throws for the final margin.
Senior forward Chad Underwood torched the Statesmen, scoring a career-high 35 points on 14-of-18 shooting from the floor and 6-of-7 effort at the foul line. He also passed Corby Laube for third place on Mount Mercy's career scoring list with 1,582 points. Underwood needs 13 points to tie Ron Harp as the second-leading scorer in school history.
Wall finished with 15 points as all five starters reached double figures for the Mustangs. Senior forward Alex Coleman and junior guard Bobby Sherwood chipped in 12 points apiece, junior forward LaDon Singleton added 10. Underwood grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Coleman pulled down nine boards and senior guard Sid Beck had a game-high six assists.
Beasley was nearly as dominant for William Penn, tallying 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Blake Walker and Arman Rasul had 13 points each and Fay ended up with 12. Fay also snared eight boards, helping the Statesmen to a 51-32 rebounding advantage. Twenty-one of those came at the offensive end.
The Statesmen (21-1, 5-0 MCC) have sole possession of first place in the MCC, while the Mustangs (19-3, 4-1 MCC) fell a game back. They're in a second-place tie with Viterbo (Wis.) (13-9, 4-1 MCC), which visits Hennessey Rec Center on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.