WLU Women Fall to Salem

SALEM — A lengthy second-half dry spell proved too much for the West Liberty University women’s basketball team to overcome Saturday night as Salem International held on for a 65-59 victory in non-conference action at the T. Edward Davis Gym.

Coach Kyle Cooper’s Lady Hilltoppers (4-8) and the host Tigers (4-10) had traded leads throughout the first two quarters with Salem taking a 34-31 lead at the half.

West Liberty came out strong when play resumed, scoring 9 of the first 11 points in the third quarter to go up, 40-36, with 6:45 on the clock.

Salem reeled off eight unanswered points to take the lead for good and continued to pull away as the Hilltoppers didn’t make another shot from the floor until junior post Marissa Brown cashed in a stick-back hoop just ahead of the third quarter buzzer.

West Liberty’s shooting woes continued into the fourth quarter with the Tigers eventually taking their largest lead of the night, 55-44, on a Keishla Gilmore layup with 7:33 left in regulation.

The Hilltoppers didn’t make a 3-point shot in the second half but still managed to mount a late charge.

A pair of free throws from Brown capped a 13-3 run and pulled WLU within a point, 58-57, with just under two minutes to play.

The visitors couldn’t quite get over the hump, however, as Salem drained four straight free throws to stop the bleeding and went on to close out the game at the charity stripe.

The disappointing setback spoiled an incredible night by Brown, who dominated the paint at both ends while pouring in a game-high 25 points and setting career-highs with 19 rebounds and seven blocks. Johnie Olkosky was West Liberty’s only other double figure scorer with 12 points on four 3-pointers — all in the first half.

Aaliyah Dotson paced the Tigers with 21 points while Isis Mance finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Gilmore contributed 14 points and 11 boards.

The Hilltoppers return to Mountain East Conference action on Thursday when they travel to Institute, W.Va. for a 5:30 p.m. game at West Virginia State.