CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Seventh-ranked Mount Mercy visits second-ranked William Penn on Saturday in the NAIA Men's Basketball Game of the Week, a highly-anticipated rematch between top-10 teams that has Midwest Collegiate Conference title implications.
With a victory, William Penn (25-1, 9-0 MCC) clinches at least a share of the MCC regular season championship, as well as the top seed and a first-round bye in the MCC tournament. Mount Mercy (23-3, 8-1 MCC) can move into a tie atop the league standings with two games left on the schedule.
The Statesmen have won 11 games in a row since their only loss of the season, an 82-71 defeat on Dec. 7 to then-19th-ranked Bellevue (Neb.). The Mustangs have won four straight since a 92-87 loss to William Penn on Jan. 19 at Hennessey Recreation Center.
Mount Mercy's three losses this season are by a combined seven points, including one in overtime. The Mustangs owned a 10-game winning streak earlier this year, the second-longest in program history. Their 23 victories are also the second-most in school history.
Head Coach Paul Gavin's 1995-96 squad had its 20-game winning streak snapped in the second round of the NAIA Division II national tournament. The Mustangs were 29-6 that season and won their lone MCC regular season and tournament titles. Gavin, already the winningest coach in school history, is six wins shy of 350 for his career.
William Penn and Mount Mercy boast two of the top offenses in the nation. The Statesmen lead NAIA Division II in scoring (97.1 ppg), scoring margin (+24.5 ppg), assists (541) and 3-point field goals per game (11.6). The Mustangs are third in 3-point field goal percentage (40.8%), seventh in scoring margin (+17 ppg) and ninth in scoring (84.3 ppg).
Senior forward Chad Underwood, the second-leading scorer in school history with 1,661 points, leads the nation in 3-point percentage (49.5%) and is third in the MCC in scoring at 17.2 points per game. Senior guard Lamar Wall is fourth in the league in scoring at 16.6 points per contest, while senior forward Alex Coleman is the MCC's third-leading rebounder at 7.5 per outing.
The Statesmen are led by Brandon Beasley, who averages a league-best 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Taylor Stoutner, who hit a school-record 10 treys against Mount Mercy last season, is fifth in the country with 87 triples this year. Blake Walker ranks eighth in the nation at 5.5 assists per contest.
William Penn is a perfect 11-0 at home this season. Mount Mercy is a respectable 6-2 on the road, and the visiting team has had the upper hand in the series dating back to the 2002-03 season. The Statesmen are 9-3 in Cedar Rapids over that span, while the Mustangs are 6-5 in Oskaloosa. William Penn will live stream Saturday's contest beginning at 3:00 p.m.