Hilltoppers Make It Rain
WEST LIBERTY – The No. 3-ranked West Liberty University men’s basketball team drained a school-record 29 3-pointers and cruised to a 141-105 rout of Point Park (Pa.) Monday night at the ASRC.
Coach Jim Crutchfield’s Hilltoppers (3-0) spotted the Pioneers (4-3) an early 2-0 lead but answered with 6 straight 3-pointers and a fast break layup off a steal to bolt out to a 20-2 lead before the game was four minutes old.
The Pittsburgh-based visitors never threatened as West Liberty sprinted to a 79-40 halftime lead and pushed the margin as high as 91-42 on a pair of Seger Bonifant free throws at 17:53 of the second half before coasting to the final margin.
“We play these guys every year and I’m sure it’s an entertaining game for the fans,” Crutchfield said. “Point Park likes to play at a fast tempo so there are always plenty of possessions and plenty of shots whenever we get together. I thought our pressure took its toll early so we were able to get our shooters several open looks in transition and that helped stretch things out.”
The Hilltopper starters saw very little action in the second half but made the most of their limited minutes.
Cedric Harris put together a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists in just 15 minutes of playing time. Keene Cockburn led the starters with 19 points in 16 minutes while Bonifant finished with 16 points. Shawn Dyer stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists while C.J. Hester added 9 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
West Liberty flashed plenty of firepower off the bench, as well.
Devin Hoehn hit 6 3-pointers and tallied a game-high 24 points, Mike Lamberti scored 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds and Kelvin Goodwin knocked down 15 points while handing out 7 assists and clearing 6 boards.
Gabe McNeal and Matt Noszka shared game scoring honors for Point Park with 29 points each.
In all, the Hilltopper starters accounted for only 90 of the 200 minutes of playing time on the night.
“We will have more challenging games down the road,” Crutchfield said, “but games like this are good confidence-boosters, especially for the younger guys or the guys who haven’t had a lot of major minutes at this level.
“That’s two good games in a row for Keene, who is somebody we need to step up and be a solid presence for us in the paint. It was good to see Kelvin and Devin come off the bench and provide some instant offense. I saw a lot of good things from a lot of guys tonight and that’s important because it starts getting serious on Saturday.”
West Liberty tips off Mountain East Conference play on Saturday against an unbeaten Charleston team which will be making its home debut after opening with a trio of impressive road wins against perennial Atlantic Region powers Slippery Rock, California (Pa.) and Shaw (N.C.).
The Hilltoppers’ only regular-season loss a year ago was a 101-96 heartbreaker at Charleston.
“It looks like Charleston has a really good team again so you know the fans are really going to be gung-ho after setting an attendance record in the game they beat us last year,” Crutchfield said. “We’re going to have to play really well down there to come away with a win.”