Penn (11-5, 3-1 MCC), who matched its longest winning streak of the season at three (also from November 14-18), trailed early until a 14-2 run gave the visitors the lead for good.
The Statesmen eventually owned a 33-22 lead at the break, courtesy of 12 points by Kris Miller
(Jr., Belleville, Mich., Belleville HS) and by holding the Saints (7-10, 1-3 MCC) to just 34.6% from the field.
Although Ashford narrowed the advantage to just five at one point in the second half, Penn was on top by double digits for much of the stanza, including owning a game-high 16-point lead at 42-26 with 17:35 remaining.
Up by 15 points at 68-53 with 5:28 left, the Statesmen began to struggle on both ends and slowly the Saints closed the gap, trailing by just four points with 1:39 left in regulation. Fortunately two possessions later, Jesse DeGeest
(Jr., Tracy, Twin Cedars HS) collected an offensive rebound, one of his career-high ten on the night, and put the ball in to put Penn up by six. Ashford failed to get any closer than four points in the final seconds.
Penn narrowly lost the shooting battle (42.1%-41.5%), but dominated on the boards with a 41-29 edge. The Statesmen also committed three fewer turnovers than the Saints (19-22), which led to a 27-15 advantage in points off turnovers.
Miller tied for the game high with 19 points, highlighted by four three-pointers, while DeGeest, in his first collegiate start, tallied 16 points on 5-9 shooting (3-4 three-pointers, 3-4 free throws). DeGeest's ten rebounds produced the first double-double of his Statesmen career. Miller also led all players with two blocks.Alvin Robertson
(So., San Antonio, Texas, Fort Smith CC), with 13 points, and Alex Robinson
(Sr., San Antonio, Texas, Texas-Pan-American), with 12 points, also reached double figures for Penn. Robertson led the visitors with three assists, while Robinson paced his team with three steals.Joe Womack
(Sr., Tacoma, Wash., Lower Columbia CC) just missed double digits with nine points off the bench.
"Our defense continues to improve and if we can continue to get great play from Jesse DeGeest
, we will be a tough team to beat," Statesmen Head Coach John Henry
said. "Alvin Robertson
made two baskets in the late minutes of the game that were just spectacular and were definitely D-I caliber plays."Next:
In the team's final non-conference game of the year, Penn travels to Vermillion, S.D. to face NCAA Division I (transition) South Dakota Saturday at 7 p.m. The contest will be webstreamed on the William Penn Athletics website, courtesy of Stretch Internet, at http://www.statesmenathletics.com/liveAudio.php