West Liberty Women Fall to Glenville

GLENVILLE – Inexperience is a problem that has hindered the West Liberty women’s basketball team all season.

The Hilltoppers showed it at the worst time and senior laden Glenville took full advantage.

The Pioneers went on a 21-5 run during the final eight minutes of a NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional first round contest as top seeded Glenville ran away with an 82-70 victory at Jesse R. Lilly Gym.

”I thought we battled incredibly hard for 32 minutes,” West Liberty coach Lynn Ullom said. ”We didn’t get rattled, fought a couple deficits, but showed our inexperience down the stretch. That’s happened to us several times this year. We don’t handle adversity real well sometimes. When we missed a couple shots or calls go against us, we haven’t reacted very well.

”(Glenville is) a beast who wants more food. They’re hard to keep out.”

For a while, the No. 8 seeded Toppers looked like they were ready to slay that beast.

Trailing by seven at halftime (45-38), West Liberty (20-11) went on a 17-6 run to take a 55-51 advantage on a Liz Flowers 3-pointer. It was the largest lead for the Toppers, who trailed the entire first half.

Foul problems, which became apparent for the Hilltoppers early on – they had eight before the 15 minute mark of the first half – made West Liberty vulnerable as junior Bri Kamarec and sophomore Kiki Simpson each picked up their fourth fouls midway through the second half.

The Hilltoppers were forced to look upon their young and inexperienced bench players to fill the role for their two defensive cornerstones.

Glenville, who started five seniors and have eight on the team, knew exactly how to take advantage.

Briauna Nix and Kenyona Simmons hit back-to-back layups and Tasia Bistow knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key and West Liberty simply did not have an answer.

”We’re not deep enough, experienced enough to have key kids sit out for long periods of time,” Ullom said. ”Some of it is us not taking away tendencies and some of it was brutally tough calls going against us. It’s tough. It’s frustrating.”

West Liberty racked up 24 personal fouls which resulted in more than a third of the Pioneers points as Glenville was 29 of 33 from the free throw line.

”I don’t know how you guard in this league,” Ullom said. ”You can’t guard anybody. It’s literally impossible in this league to guard people. You’re better off just to play a 2-3 zone and let the other team shoot. You can not guard people. The numbers say it every time. I’m not criticizing. I’m just saying that’s what the game is now.”

Flowers, who finished with a game-high 26 points, agreed the fouls hindered the Toppers effort.

”Kailee (Howe) had two fouls, she had to play safe. She couldn’t be as aggressive as she normally is,” Flowers said. ”Kiki (Simpson) obviously is our rebounding machine. We need her in there to rebound. We missed having her in there for most of the first half. It did hurt us.”

It wasn’t as though foul problems kept West Liberty out of the game. On several occasions, the Toppers found themselves in the mists of the Glenville run, but were able to fight back.

”I take my hat off to West Liberty,” Glenville first year coach Charles Marshall said. ”I knew they would come in ready to play and that’s what they did, but our ladies came to play as well.”

Indeed.

Glenville, the Mountain East Conference’s regular season and tournament champs, looked dominate as the Pioneers jumped out to an early 20-13 lead.

”This is the NCAA tournament at its best,” Marshall said. ”Every game is going to be tough. We know that going in. I thought we showed a lot of poise, heart and determination. We did not play our best basketball (Friday). I very seriously doubt we have that type of performance again moving forward in this tournament.”

It’s true.

Glenville averaged a 41 percent shooting percentage per game, but shot only 34 percent (27-79) against the Toppers. West Liberty was also able to knock the Pioneers off their 3-point game as the Hilltoppers limited them to only three on 22 attempts. For the season, Glenville had hit 368 3s.

”I’ll be surprised if we shoot like that (tonight),” Marshall said. ”But that goes back to a good game plan by West Liberty. They know who our shooters are. They were well prepared and they took it away.”

As they should. After all, West Liberty had won three of the past four matchups between the two teams prior to Friday.

”I don’t want to say you ever want to play the No. 1 seed,” Ullom said. ”But we have played Glenville before and that has its advantages and disadvantages.”

Bistow and Simmons finished with 21 points apiece for the Pioneers (29-3), who advance to play Bloomsburgh tonight at 7:30.

Howe, who also finished with four fouls, had 15 points for West Liberty, while Simpson added nine points and nine boards before fouling out. Freshman and Wheeling Central grad Colleen McCormick ended with eight points and eight boards.