Toppers Roll Yellow Jackets
Brown sets school record with 46 points
WEST LIBERTY — When Marissa Brown was summoned to the West Liberty bench with roughly four minutes remaining in Thursday night’s 100-74 rout of West Virginia State at the ASRC, it looked as though it wasn’t meant to be.
”I did not know,” Hilltoppers coach Kyle Cooper said. ”I try my absolute hardest to really just coach the possession that is in front of us, because that is what I demand from them.
”So if I look at the world differently I’m not being true to it. I had no idea but I’m glad that we were made aware of it.”
When Brown exited the game, she was one point shy of the school record for points in a game. Cooper and his staff were notified and Brown was reinserted into the game and finished with a flourish.
Brown, a senior, set a West Liberty (8-5 overall, 5-2 Mountain East Conference) and ASRC mark with 46 points on 21 of 30 shooting to go along with 18 rebounds and eight blocked shots. The previous record of 44 was set Feb. 13, 1992, by Shadyside graduate Melissa Hammond, ironically enough against W.Va. State.
”This definitely has a special place in my heart,” Brown said. ”And we got a big win, which was super fun.
”I’m glad that we got the win and I was able to do it with my teammates.”
The significance of the whole thing was not lost on Cooper, who prides himself on being a historian of the West Liberty program.
”It’s hard to put into words, when you think about it,” he said. ”You can go through every generation of players who have played here across the last 25-plus years, and we talk all the time about how we’re trying to make our mark on something that is so special to so many people.
”For her to be the one that now holds that record and for this team to be the one that did it with her … . I think the thing I’m most pleased with is, for 25-plus years this program has prided itself — way before I was ever here with Coach (Lynn) Ullom — on sharing the basketball and doing it as one.
”And we are finally getting it back to where we’re one. So I think this is so much bigger than just her getting this record. I think it’s a testament to our program getting back to where it needs to be and it deserves to be, because of how hard (Ullom) worked to build it.”
To give an example of what Cooper is talking about in terms of sharing the basketball, West Liberty had 33 assists on 39 made baskets Thursday night. Taylor Johnson led the way with nine while Audrey Tingle was charted with eight, Olivia Belknap handed out six and Brandi Beader registered five.
”Just an unbelievable game for our team,” Cooper said. ”It’s been a long time since we played a game and we certainly didn’t show any rust, and that’s on them.
”They really bought into the way we practiced and the things we did on break, and kinda just fell back into playing the game as one.
”Efficiency-wise we shot 51 percent and 42 percent on 3s.”
The Yellow Jackets (3-10, 2-5) never had an answer as West Liberty put this one away early. Brown scored 20 of her points in the first quarter as the Hilltoppers, who constantly broke down State’s pressure defense, shot to a 34-12 lead.
By halftime it was 57-38 and the only suspense was whether Brown would get the record and if WLU would eclipse the 100-point plateau.
”I can’t say enough about Marissa Brown and you guys know that at this point,” Cooper said. ”I am just so proud of her and the fact that she is getting this recognition.
”Her teammates love her more than anything, and that’s the part that impresses me. They wanted that so much for her and the flip side is, she looks at it as it’s on the them for getting her the basketball.
”She’s a silent superstar.”
Johnson added 17 points for the Hilltoppers, who have a showdown Saturday at nationally ranked Charleston. Morgan Brunner scored nine and Beader chipped in eight.
Jordan Miller paced State with 18 points while Anesha Harmon and Anna Ross evenly divided 22.