WEST LIBERTY - The unbeaten and No. 1-ranked West Liberty University men's basketball team used an extended first-half surge to wipe out an early deficit and cruise to a 107-88 victory against Glenville State Monday night at the ASRC.
Coach Jim Crutchfield's Hilltoppers (13-0 overall, 9-0 MEC) found themselves on the short end of a 26-12 score when the Pioneers' (8-5, 5-4) Kevin Gray drained the third of his three consecutive 3-pointers less than seven minutes after the opening tip.
Freshman Devin Hoehn started the West Liberty rally with a 3-point bomb and the Hilltopper pressure took care of the rest, forcing the visitors into 14 first-half turnovers and fueling the WLU rally.
West Liberty’s Mike Lamberti slams one home against Glenville State on Monday night at the ASRC.
C.J. Hester pulled West Liberty even, 36-36, when he cashed in a Shawn Dyer feed with 6:46 still showing on the first-half clock and the Hilltoppers kept right on rolling.
When the Black and Gold outscored Glenville 15-2 during the next three minutes, West Liberty had turned a 14-point deficit into a 13-point lead -51-38 - with 3:48 still showing on the first-half clock before settling for a 58-46 halftime lead.
"We made some adjustments on our pressure during one of the media timeouts," Crutchfield said. "All of a sudden, there was a flurry of turnovers and we were in a one-possession game. We just built on it from there."
The Pioneers mounted a brief rally midway through the second half, trimming the margin to 79-73 on a driving layup by Donte Morales but the upset alert had already been canceled.
The Hilltoppers' Keene Cockburn removed any doubt when he knocked down three straight hoops to cap another 15-2 run, putting the game out of reach, 94-75, with 7:32 to go.
"We're getting good contributions from a lot of people," Crutchfield said. "Mike Lamberti came in and did some really good things for us in the first half and Devin had 21 points in about 16 minutes so he knows how to put the ball in the basket.''
Hoehn's 21 points led four double-figure scorers for West Liberty. Hester had another double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Cedric Harris knocked down 20 points and handed out 8 assists. Cockburn stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, nine rebounds, four steals and a pair of blocked shots.