COLLEGE ROUNDUP: Hilltoppers Top Eagles

WEST LIBERTY – It was somewhere near the end of then-No. 1 West Liberty’s loss at Charleston on Jan. 14, where, amid chants of ”overrated,” Hilltoppers coach Jim Crutchfield noticed Charleston coach Mark Downey motion to some of the UC faithful to simmer down.

While the Golden Eagles fans may or may not see the Hilltoppers again, Downey was sure he and his players would.

”We knew we were coming into a Hurricane,” Downey said Monday night after the Hilltoppers avenged their lone setback of the season via a 95-77 victory, their ninth in a row.

That spread looks good, but even Crutchfield noted it certainly didn’t feel like an 18-point victory.

It was a two-point WLU lead at halftime and it was a nine-point game with 8:14 left and Charleston’s Xavier Humphrey had a good look at a 3-pointer that would have really loosened Crutchfield’s neck tie, but he missed it and WLU’s Seger Bonifant cashed in on one on his own end seconds later to help keep the No. 3 Hilltoppers (23-1 overall, 17-1 WVC) up two games in league play with four remaining.

”He rushed it,” Downey said of Humphrey’s shot.

It was typical of the Golden Eagles in the second half. They trailed 45-43 after the first 20 minutes, but then tried to do two things at a time for the better part of the last 20.

”We got going too fast at times,” Downey said. ”We didn’t make plays at opportune times.”

The Hilltoppers, with Bonifant’s dagger and a few floaters by Shawn Dyer that beat the shot clock, cruised down the stretch.

It’s not how they normally do it, but Crutchfield didn’t want to gamble. After all, there’s just one team that has proved it could beat his guys.

”We took a game that was potentially going to be close and in the last five minutes, we spread it out, handled the ball well, and got decent looks. If we can burn some time and score on the end of it, we can win some games,” said Crutchfield, whose teams have won an absurd 84 percent of the games he’s coached.

West Liberty won the rebound battle by 12 (43-31) and limited Charleston (15-7, 11-7) to six second-chance points.

”That really hurt us,” Downey said. ”That’s what they want to do. They want more possessions than you.”

In the end, that happened. WLU wound up taking 69 shots to UC’s 56 and had four fewer turnovers (11-7). The free throws were nearly even.

Alex Falk had 25 points to lead five players in double figures for the Hilltoppers. Chris Morrow had 19 points and 14 rebounds and C.J. Hester, Dyer, and Tim Hausfeld each had 10 points.

”They made plays when they had to,” Downey said. ”And they’re just really good.”

Quincy Washington led UC, which lost for the fifth time in its last eight games, with 26 points. Terrell Lipkins added 20 points and Robbie Dreher totaled 12 points and nine rebounds.

Wheeling Jesuit 67

Seton Hill 62

WHEELING – Justin Fritts scored 17 points to lead four players in double figures as Wheeling Jesuit topped Seton Hill.

Recardo Gaddy added 14 points, Ben Siefert finished with 12 points, five assists, and seven rebounds, and Joe Pratti totaled 11 points for the Cardinals (14-8, 11-7), who moved into a tie with Charleston in the league standings.

It was a three-point game with 12 second left when David Windsor missed a potential tying shot for the Griffins (11-11, 8-10).

From there Prati hit a pair of free throws for the final margin.

Olvier McGlade was 6 of 11 from 3-point land and finished with 18 points. David Windsor scored 11 points while playing all 40 minutes.

The Griffins led by two at halfime but were outscored 40-33 in the second half.

Seton Hill 70, Wheeling Jesuit 52

WHEELING – Breanna Butler hit five 3-pointers and scored 20 points and Skobczak added 15 points and six rebounds but it wasn’t enough as Wheeling Jesuit (7-15, 4-14) fell to Seton Hill (13-11, 10-8).

Butler wound up with an unusual line in that she played 36 minutes and was not whistled for a personal foul, nor did she collect a rebound.

Katie Gattuso’s 23 points paced the Griffins.