A good defensive first half resulting in the number two team in the country shooting only 17% from the floor helped propel the Peru State men's basketball team to an upset win Saturday afternoon.
The Bobcats held William Penn (Iowa) to making only five field goals in the first half in route to leading the visiting Statesmen 39-15 at halftime. William Penn would heat up in the second half, but it was a little too late as the 'Cats cruised to an 85-68 win.
The 17th-ranked Bobcats improved to 16-5 overall and more importantly to 11-4 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart). Peru State now has sole possession of second place behind league-leading Benedictine (Kan.). William Penn falls to 16-5 on the season and are 10-5 in conference play – good for third place.
The teams have split the season series and could eventually meet again in the post-season tournament.
First Half Action
A trey by KeShawn Wilson (Lincoln) off an assist from Brandon Jones (Houston) started the scoring for Peru State. Jones would follow with a basket but missed a free throw to make it 5-0 at the 17:38 mark. Jones would hit another bucket and then once again, would dish an assist to Wilson who hit his second trey of the game. With 14:43 left in the first 20 minutes, the 'Cats led 10-0.
The Statesmen would eventually pull back with four at 12-8 at the 12:27 mark. Later at the 10:30 point in the first half, Lyle Hexom (Omaha) would get a hoop off an assist from Terry Moore Jr. (Kansas City, Kan.) to put Peru State back up by ten at 20-10.
Peru State would score the next 14 points to extend the lead to 24-10. In that run, Wilson would hit three more three-pointers. William Penn would stop the run with a bucket only to see Moore Jr. score four points in a row – two on free throws and later on a bucket to make the score 38-12.
William Penn would close out the half scoring three points to one for the 'Cats as they trailed 39-15 at halftime.
Second Half Action
Wilson started the half with a trey off an assist from Deonte McReynolds (Chicago) to put the 'Cats up 42-15 with just 14 seconds off the clock. McReynolds would again dish another dime to Wilson, but this time only for a two-pointer.
Later, the Bobcats would lead 47-17 after McReynolds hit a trey off an assist from Wilson with 18:29 on the clock.
Peru State would eventually have its largest lead of 32 at 55-23 after McReynolds hit another trey on an assist from Wilson with 16:28 left in the game.
William Penn would outscore the 'Cats 21-9 to pull within 20 at 64-44 with 11:06 left in the game.
The Statesmen would still fight to cut the deficit and eventually pulled within 13 twice with the latest coming at 79-66 with 3:14 left in the game. Hexom would stop that run with back-to-back buckets with Wilson following with a hoop of his own to score the final points of the game for Peru State.
William Penn would get a pair of free throws for the final scoring of the contest.
Team Statistics

Peru State connected on 32 of 65 field goal tries for 49.2% which included making 12 of 29 from long range for 41.4%. The 'Cats did struggle a little from the free throw line as they made 9 of 16 for 56.3%. After the poor shooting first half, William Penn did heat it up from the floor as they finished making 25 of 64 for 39.1%. The Statesmen made 5 of 19 from behind the arc for 26.3%. At the charity stripe, William Penn went 13 of 16 for 81.3%.
The Statesmen did grab one more rebound than the Bobcats as they finished with 34. Peru State dished out 21 assists compared to 12 for William Penn.
William Penn committed 18 turnovers while the 'Cats had 14. Peru State blocked five shots compared to four for the Statesmen. The 'Cats finished with seven steals – two more than William Penn.
Peru Player Statistics
Wilson led all scorers as he finished with 31 points while making nine of 11 from downtown. The nine made treys is the second-best in a single game for any Bobcat.
Four other Peru State players finished in double figures. McReynolds had 15 points while Moore Jr. added 13. Jones contributed 11 and Hexom added ten.
Jones had a double-double in the contest as they grabbed ten boards. Hexom added five rebounds.
Jones dished out a team-high seven assists while Hexom, McReynolds, and Moore Jr. each had three assists.
Hexom blocked three shots while Jones finished with two blocks.
Moore Jr. and Hexom each were credited with two steals.
Upcoming Contests
Peru State will have a full week off before hosting Evangel (Mo.) on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. The Crusaders are presently on the bottom of the conference with a 4-15 overall record. Evangel is 3-11 in Heart play.
It will be a big day on Feb. 2 as it is the Peru State Foundation's National Alumni Association Chili Feed. In addition, there will be many other activities taking place that afternoon, so it would be a good time to come to watch Bobcat basketball.
On Wednesday, Feb. 6, the 'Cats will be in Olathe, Kan., to face MidAmerica Nazarene at 7:30 p.m. The Pioneers are 10-10 on the season and are 5-9 in conference play.