Hot-Shooting Hilltoppers Torch Urbana, 108-83
WEST LIBERTY - Shawn Dyer scored a career-high 31 points and West Liberty shot a blistering 61 percent from the floor as the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Hilltoppers sprinted away to a 108-83 victory against Urbana at the ASRC.
West Liberty (7-0, 4-0) never trailed in coasting past the Blue Knights (0-8, 0-4), foiling Urbana's strategy of forcing a slower pace with its best shooting performance of the season.
"(Urbana) actually did slow the game down," WLU coach Jim Crutchfield said. "There were probably fewer possessions in this game than any game we've played for a while.
"The key for us was how efficient we were on offense, especially in the first half. Even with the limited possessions, we were still able to put 50 points on the board and take a 20-point halftime lead. It's awfully hard to stick with that strategy when you're down 20."
The Hilltoppers blistered the twine at a 70 percent clip (21-of-30) in the opening half with Dyer canning all 5 of his shots from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers, while adding a couple of free throws to enter the break with 14 points.
A 48-percent career 3-point shooter, Dyer had made just 2 of his last 11 3-point shots coming into Saturday's game but the 6-foot junior from Marion, Ohio zeroed in early against the Blue Knights.
"It was good to see Shawn get back on track," Crutchfield said, "but it certainly wasn't a surprise. Shawn knows and we know that he's one of several guys who are capable of doing that on any given night. That's one of our strengths as a team."
Trailing 53-33 as the second half got under way, Urbana never seriously threatened. The lead reached 37 points on several occasions midway through the second half as West Liberty breezed to its 56th consecutive home conference victory.
Dyer didn't lack for offensive support as Keene Cockburn added 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks while Seger Bonifant chipped in with a dozen points and Devin Hoehn came off the bench with 10. Kelvin Goodwin had nine points and six rebounds while Zak Kirkbride also finished with nine points as all 12 Hilltoppers hit the scoring column.
The Blue Knights, who used only seven players, had five double-figure scorers with Danny Goins' 25 points leading the way.
West Liberty will be off this week for semester exams and will close out the pre-holiday portion of its schedule on Dec. 17 when the Hilltoppers host Cedarville (Ohio) in a 7:30 p.m. game at the ASRC.
Wheeling Jesuit 85, Notre Dame 73
SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio - Though the score was tied seven times, Wheeling Jesuit never trailed in a victory against Notre Dame.
The Cardinals (5-2, 3-1), who shot 56 percent in the first half, were led by 24 points from Eric Siefert. Andre Harrison added 10 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Kyle Ritze totaled 10 rebounds.
Tyree Gaiter's 20 points paced the Falcons.
OU Chillicothe 90, OUE 72
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio - The Ohio University Eastern Panthers fell to 2-6 after a road loss to Ohio University Chillicothe.
The Panthers stayed close throughout the first half and trailed 36-28 at the break. Chillicothe broke out early in the second half out scoring the Green and White 21-4 cruising to an easy victory.
Shadyside's Nick Schuetz had 23 points and eight rebounds while Devin Ward tallied 20 points.
Bethany 63, Grove City 61
BETHANY - Bethany overcame an early, 15-point deficit, and held on late to notch their sixth-consecutive victory.
Kevin Jackson led the Bison with 18 points. Tyrone Smothers and Delonte Joyce also reached double-figures, finishing with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Lawrence Weldon stuffed the stat sheet, garnering career highs in steals (five) and assists (nine) while posting seven points and five rebounds.
Urbana 75, West Liberty 74
WEST LIBERTY - Urbana's DeVonyea Johnson hit a driving layup with 1 second remaining to hand West Liberty a one-point loss.
The Hilltoppers (3-5, 2-2) had used a 17-3 run to overcome a double-digit deficit in the first five minutes of the second half and never trailed again until Johnson beat the buzzer with the game-winner for the league-leading Blue Knights (6-1, 4-0).
West Liberty had a couple of chances to put the game away coming down the stretch.
After a free throw by Urbana's Katy Barkley cut the WLU lead to 74-73 with 50 seconds to go, the Hilltoppers ran the shot clock down into single digits but couldn't get a shot to drop. The ball was knocked out of bounds during the scramble for the rebound and the Blue Knights took over with 20 seconds remaining.
Johnson, the team's leading scorer at 21.8 ppg., drove toward the basket but was cut off just outside the paint and lobbed up a hurried 8-footer. West Liberty's Kiki Simpson grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled with 11 seconds left.
Simpson couldn't get either foul shot to drop and Urbana called its final timeout with 10.5 seconds on the clock to set up for the final shot.
"We knew what was coming," Hilltopper head coach Lynn Ullom said. "We had just stopped it on the previous possession but we figured they'd have Johnson try to get to the rim again looking to score or get to the foul line. It came down to a one-play game and they made one more play than we did."
It was a frustrating loss for a West Liberty team that had roared out of the blocks to take a 20-9 lead midway through the first half only to see the Blue Knights respond with a sustained surge that sent the visitors into the locker room with a 34-28 lead.
Urbana pushed the margin to 38-28 in the first 30 seconds of the second half but a conventional 3-point play by Bri Kamarec touched off the run that put West Liberty ahead for most of the second half.
Jasmin Kiley's 3-pointer forged a 41-41 tie with 16:23 on the clock and Colleen McCormick followed with another bonus bomb for a 44-41 lead as the clock ticked past the 16-minute mark.
West Liberty pushed the lead as high as seven points, 52-45, but Urbana battled back to knot the score, 62-62, on a 3-point play by Kate Francisco with 7:53 to play and the margin never got past four points the rest of the way.
Kiley drained 5 3-pointers and scored 21 points to pace five double-figure scorers for the hosts. Kailee Howe added 11 points and eight rebounds while Liz Flowers had 10 points despite missing much of the second half due to foul problems.
Former Wheeling Central teammates McCormick and Emily Bucon were impact performers off the bench. McCormick posted her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Bucon weighed in with 11 points, 7 rebounds and a game-high five assists. Kamarec, still on the mend from a November concussion, donated eight points and three steals.
Johnson finished with a game-high 24 points for the Blue Knights. Kennedy Boggs added 19 and Barkley finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The West Liberty women will be off next week for semester exams before heading to Puerto Rico to play in the Puerto Rico Classic Dec. 17-18.
Notre Dame 81, Wheeling Jesuit 70
SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio - Taneka Lewis scored19 points and Jaila Bryant added 17 in Wheeling Jesuit's loss to Notre Dame.
After a close first half, the Falcons (5-1, 3-1) didn't allow the Cardinals (1-5, 0-4) any closer than six points in the second halft.
Martha Nagbe scored 30 points, the most by any player in the MEC on Saturday, to lead Notre Dame.
NDC scored 28 points off of turnovers.
Bethany 56, Grove City 46
BETHANY - Gabrielle Naples scored a career-high 18 points in leading Bethany past Grove City.
Sami Schott added 12 points and Mikyla Tipton finished in double figures with 11. Skylar Williams added eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals for the Bison.
The Bethany defense held Grove City to 30 percent shooting from the field and forcing the Wolverines into 26 turnovers over the course of the game.