WEST LIBERTY - The No. 3-ranked West Liberty University men's basketball team was expected to have an easy time of it against last-place Ohio Valley and the Hilltoppers more than lived up to expectations Monday night at the ASRC.
West Liberty (21-1 overall, 15-1 WVC) came roaring out of the blocks to build a 20-point lead in the first nine minutes and Coach Jim Crutchfield rested his starters for most of the second half in a 112-55 blowout of the Fighting Scots (3-19, 2-14).
"This was the kind of game you hope for as a coach at this time of year," Crutchfield said. "We brought a lot of early pressure and built a big lead pretty quickly, which gave us a chance to get our high-minute guys a little rest while giving extended minutes to some guys who haven't seen as much time over the last couple of weeks."
West Liberty’s Alex Falk, left, drives against a pair of Ohio Valley defenders Monday night.
The Hilltoppers had blasted OVU, 139-71, in a November game at Vienna and Monday's contest followed much the same script.
West Liberty used an 11-0 run to go up, 11-2 in the first five minutes and the issue was never in doubt.
Shawn Dyer's stop-and-pop 3-pointer pushed the count to 35-11 with 10:17 still showing on the first half clock and the Hilltoppers coasted into the locker room with a 65-27 halftime lead.
The song remained the same in the second half. West Liberty passed the century mark and took its biggest lead of the night, 101-42, on a pair of Kelvin Goodwin free throws at the 7:21 mark before coasting home.
Alex Falk led six double-figure scorers for the hosts with a game-high 20 points in just 14 minutes of action. Goodwin added 13 and Keene Cockburn chipped in with 11 while Dyer, Cedric Harris and Seger Bonifant all finished with 10 points each.
Jerry Macon came off the bench with 16 points to pace Ohio Valley, which also got a dozen points from Austin Parker.
West Liberty hits the road on Saturday for a 4 p.m. game at Alderson-Broaddus.
Fairmont State's 70-65 upset loss to Wheeling Jesuit on Monday night effectively gives West Liberty a 2-game lead with six games remaining in their West Virginia Conference season ... WLU is trying to become the first WVIAC school in nearly four decades to win four consecutive league titles. ... Crutchfield improved to 17-0 against the Fighting Scots. The Hilltoppers have won 29 of the 30 meetings between the two programs ... West Liberty extended its WVIAC home winning streak to 51 games.
Wheeling Jesuit 70, Fairmont State 65
FAIRMONT - Wheeling Jesuit held off a furious second half rally by Fairmont State to defeat the Falcons at Joe Retton Arena.
FSU looked to be done for the night trailing 61-46 with 7:34 to go, but went on a 13-0 run over the next three minutes to draw to within a basket at 61-59. The Falcons did it from long range during that stretch with two 3-pointers from Chase Morgan and one from Isaac Thornton. FSU was able to tie the game with a minute left, but Ben Siefert scored a three-point play and Morgan and Malik Stith missed from three in the waning seconds to secure the Cardinals' victory.
Siefert paced Wheeling Jesuit (12-8, 9-7 WVIAC) with 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Joe Prati added 15 points, Justin Fritts scored 12 and Recardo Gaddy chipped in 11.
Isaiah Hill had 16 points for Fairmont State (15-5, 13-3 WVIAC). Thornton also scored 16 and Morgan came off the bench to add 10.
Wheeling Jesuit was able to shoot 51 percent from the field for the game. FSU connected on 42 percent of its shots from the field and out-rebounded the Cardinals by six. However, Wheeling Jesuit was 14-of-17 from the free throw line for the game, compared to just 7 of 10 for FSU.
Fairmont State 64, Wheeling Jesuit 58
FAIRMONT - Fairmont State used a heavy does of Kaitlin Snyder in the first half and Hailey Garrett in the second half to defeat Wheeling Jesuit at Joe Retton Arena.
Snyder scored 18 of her 20 points in the first half and Garrett notched seven of her 13 points in the second half to help the Falcons (14-7, 12-4)
Garrett also recorded her 10th double-double of the year with 13 rebounds. Briana Welch added 11 points and Tiffany Nicholson scored 10 for FSU.
Wheeling Jesuit (6-14, 3-13 was led by 18 points from Taneka Lewis. Kelsey Pacholke scored 14 points and Jamie Sobczak pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds for the Cardinals.
Despite trailing 35-25 at the half, the Cardinals started the second half strong and pulled to within just a basket at 43-41 with 10:33 to go after a 3-pointer from Taylor Lubinsky. Garrett then hit three key baskets to help the Falcons out to a modest 9-4 run that would push the FSU advantage back to nine at 56-47 with 4:35 to go. WJU got it back to within three after Lewis sparked a 7-0 run with five points on her own at 59-56 with 1:11 to go. Welch then converted a traditional three-point play with 24 seconds left to help put the game away as FSU would settle for the 64-58 final.
West Liberty 85, Ohio Valley 55
WEST LIBERTY - Surging West Liberty scored 16 of the game's first 20 points Monday night and never looked back in sprinting away to a victory against Ohio Valley University at a snow-bound ASRC.
The fifth victory in the last six games for Coach Lynn Ullom's Hilltoppers (14-6, 12-4) was delivered in a much more convincing fashion than the season's first meeting between the teams, which saw the Fighting Scots (1-19, 1-15) push West Liberty into double-overtime before falling by a 77-69 count.
Hillary Southworth led all scorers with 27 points while freshman point guard Liz Flowers added 17 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Jenn Mohney came off the bench to round out the double-figure scorers with 10 points.
Shelby Way's 17 points paced Ohio Valley while Jasmine Gibson added a dozen points off the bench.