INSTITUTE - The No. 1-ranked West Liberty University men's basketball team took control early and was never threatened in coasting to a 105-85 victory at West Virginia State on Monday night.
Coach Jim Crutchfield's Hilltoppers (18-1 overall, 14-1 MEC) used a 15-2 blitz covering a 2-minute span to take a 27-12 lead with 13:30 still showing on the first half clock and the Yellowjackets (7-12, 4-12) never got the margin into single digits again.
West Liberty pushed the lead to 20 points, 36-16, at the 10-minute mark and led by as many as 29 before settling for a 61-34 bulge at haftime.
The lead reached 35 points, 89-54, on a Cedric Harris jumper with 10:19 remaining before the Hilltoppers - playing the first of three road games this week - shifted into cruise control.
West Liberty shot better than 50 percent from the floor (42 of 78, 54 percent) and from the 3-point arc (14 of 25, 56 percent) while forcing 20 turnovers and dominating the backboards by a 41-31 margin. Nearly half (18) of those 41 rebounds came on the offensive glass as the Hilltoppers posted a whopping 26-4 edge in second-chance points.
Freshman Devin Hoehn drained four 3-pointers in the game's first five minutes and finished with a WLU season-high seven bonus bombs - on 7 of 9 shooting and 21 points. Harris led all scorers with 28 points while handing out five assists and collecting three steals.
Shawn Dyer came off the bench with 18 points, pull down five rebounds and hand out a game-high six assists. Keene Cockburn rounded out the double-figure scorers with 12 points to go along with a season-high five blocked shots.
Anton Hutchins scored 21 points to pace West Virginia State.
West Liberty's victory, coupled with second-place Charleston's 88-80 loss to Wheeling Jesuit, gives the Hilltoppers a four-game lead in the MEC standings with just 7 games left in the regular season.
Wheeling Jesuit 88
CHARLESTON -Wheeling Jesuit ran its winning streak to five games with a road victory against Charleston.
Justin Fritts scored 19 points, had six assists, and pulled down five rebounds for the Cards (10-8, 8-7), who had an assist on 26 of their 31 field goals and shot 57 percent from the field
Eric Siefert added 14 points, nine assists, and five rebounds), while Andre Harris contributed 14 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Kyle Ritz totalled 14 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
With the game tied at 47-47 with 16:12 in the second half, Fritts scored the next five and Tim Goff added a bucket, and WJU never trailed again
Xavier Humphrey led UC with 17 points and six rebounds.
West Liberty 90, W.Va. State 81
INSTITUTE - West Liberty exploded for 60 second-half points to overcome a double-digit halftime deficit and took over sole possession of third place in the Mountain East Conference with a victory at West Virginia State.
It was the fifth straight triumph for Coach Lynn Ullom's Lady Hilltoppers (13-8, 10-5) and the seventh in their last eight games while the Yellowjackets (13-8, 9-6) slipped to fourth place in the MEC.
Bri Kamarec continued her hot streak for West Liberty draining five 3-pointers and scoring 18 of her career-high 20 points during WLU's second-half surge, but the junior guard wasn't the only Hilltopper shooting the lights out at Fleming Hall as West Liberty blistered the twine at a 64 percent clip from the floor (21 of 33) and from behind the 3-point arc (9 of 14) in the final 20 minutes.
Liz Flowers had a strong game with a team-high 21 points and eight rebounds while Kailee Howe made another run at a triple-double with 17 points, a career-high 13 assists and seven rebounds.
All five West Liberty starters hit double-figures with Kiki Simpson overcoming foul trouble to post another double-double with 13 points and a dozen rebounds while Kiley splashed home a trio of 3-pointers in an 11-point night.
Lexy Carson's game-high 27 points paced four double-figure scorers for the hosts.
Wheeling Jesuit 64
CHARLESTON - Julia Bryan scored 19 points, pulled down six rebounds and added six assists and three steals, but it wasn't enough as Wheeling Jesuit fell to UC.
Taneka Lewis added 12 points for the Cards (9-10, 6-9), while Breanna Butler finished with 11.
Chyress Lockhart came off the bench for the second time this season and scored 25 points in leading the Golden Eagles.
UC shot 54 percent from the field and hit 10 three-pointers. After shooting over 50 percent in the last two games, WJU cooled to 43 percent.