SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Hillary Southworth posted her second straight 30-point game and the West Liberty University women survived a second-half rally by St. Augustine's (N.C.) Friday afternoon to take an 80-74 victory in the first game of the Wolf's Bus Lines Classic at Shippensburg (Pa.) University.
Southworth poured in 24 of her game-high 30 points in the first half as the Hilltoppers (2-1) sprinted out to a 51-33 lead at halftime. The lead swelled as high as 21 points in the second half but the Falcons (0-2) refused to fold.
After shooting nearly 66 percent from the floor (21 of 32) during the first 20 minutes, West Liberty cooled off significantly. With the North Carolina team's high-pressure defense forcing several Hilltoppers turnovers, the WLU lead slowly but steadily melted away during the course of the second half.
It disappeared completely when Briana Arrington rebounded a missed free throw by Porscha Walton and pushed it back in for a 69-68 Falcons lead with 4:41 left to play.
That seemed to be a wake-up call for West Liberty as the Hilltoppers went back ahead to stay, 70-69, on a Liz Flowers layup 10 seconds later.
Senior forward Meghan Wiseman capitalized on back-to-back defensive stops by powering to the hoop for a layup and following up with two free throws, giving WLU some breathing room, 74-69, with 2:48 to go.
Jasmine Cuffee's 3-pointer cut the gap to 74-72 at the 2:24 mark but Kiki Simpson fed Bri Kamarec for a clutch layup and a 76-72 Hilltopper lead at 2:05.
Two more Cuffee free throws pulled the Falcons within range again, 76-74, and Temperance Jacobs had a chance to knot the score after coming up with a steal but Wiseman blocked Jacobs' layup attempt and controlled the carom as the clock ticked under a minute.
West Liberty ran the shot clock down before Simpson missed a short jumper but the 5-foot-9 Kamarec grabbed the rebound and cashed in a follow shot for a 78-74 lead with 38 seconds to play.
St. Augustine's came up empty on the ensuing possession and Flowers closed out the game with a pair of charity tosses.
Southworth had seven rebounds and five assists to go along with her 30 points. Wiseman finished with 20 points and Kamarec added 11. Simpson tied Southworth for game-high rebounding honors with seven, while fellow freshman Jasmin Kiley also dished out five assists.
Walton paced the Falcons with 17 points, while Tahsha Mitchell and Cuffee finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
West Liberty won the battle of the boards by a 43-36 margin but committed 29 turnovers to just 14 for St. Augustine's.
The Hilltoppers close out the tournament today with a 6 p.m. game against Shippensburg.
WILMINGTON - Bethany trailed Wilmington by just four at halftime, but the Bison scored only 20 points in the second half and the Quakers pulled away for a victory in the first round of the season opening Wilmington Tip-Off Tournament.
Kayla Taormina finished with a team-leading 12 points, with 10 of those in the opening half, and she added three steals. Senior Carly Garneau ) was one of four Bison with five points and she also grabbed five boards, earning team-high honors with junior Taylor Verrico.