West Liberty Men Eclipse 100 Yet Again

Moore Jr. enjoys career night with 19 points, 14 rebonds

Photo provided by WLU Athletics West Liberty’s Marlon Moore drives to the basket during Thursday’s game against West Virginia State. Moore secured 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Hilltoppers.

WEST LIBERTY — Ben Howlett has maintained since preseason that his West Liberty men’s basketball team will continue to get better as the year unfolds. That’s got to be a scary proposition for future opponents.

The 12th-ranked Hilltoppers (10-2 overall, 6-1 Mountain East Conference) put forth a business-like effort against West Virginia State (5-8, 2-4) on Thursday night inside the ASRC. Marlon Moore Jr. set career-highs in minutes (26), points (19) and rebounds (14) to lead six double-figure scorers as West Liberty pulled away for a 105-90 victory.

”It was a tale of two halves, I thought. Again for whatever reason we lacked energy in the first half,” Howlett said. ”That was our message going into the game for the last five practices, is that we needed to get out of the gates.

”The staple for West Liberty basketball has been taking teams out early, stepping on their throats, making it ugly and not letting them back into games.

”We haven’t done that in two games now and I’m trying to put my finger on it. But I thought the second half, I thought we denied a lot better in our press, we made them play a little bit faster and we shared the ball better.”

The Yellow Jackets gave the Toppers all they wanted for most of the first half, but when Brady Arnold knocked in three of his 11 points the home team took a 26-24 advantage they did not relinquish. By halftime it was 48-41 West Liberty and Moore nearly had a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.

”I just go in and pretty much do what I can do,” Moore said. ”Coach always tells me to stay simple and play my game, and that’s what I try to do.

”I feel like if I keep playing like Coach says, this could be like an every game thing. I surely do believe that.”

Howlett isn’t going to argue.

”That’s two games in a row that I thought he’s been tremendous,” Howlett said. ”He was pulling down rebounds that reminded me of C.J. Hester rebounds. C.J. always pulled down these tough rebounds and Marlon was pulling down tough rebounds in crowds.

”He was undersized but he was elevating and rising up above those guys.”

When Moore hit a 3-pointer less than midway through the second half, West Liberty’s lead reached double-digits (68-56) for the first time. State countered, but Eric Meininger knocked down another Toppers 3.

The lead got as big as 17 on another Moore basket.

Defense was another key for West Liberty, which held State to 39-percent shooting. The Yellow Jackets scored 90 points strictly on the fact the game featured so many possessions.

Dalton Bolon paved the way for West Liberty offensively, scoring 22 points. Tyler Primmer and an aggressive Luke Dyer evenly divided 20.

”I’ve got to pick my spots because Coach Howlett gives me all the confidence in the world,” Dyer said. ”If we need to get a bucket and I need to be aggressive, then I will.

”We need energy plays and if we need me to hit a 3, then that’s what I’ll do.”

Gus Stone led the Yellow Jackets with 16 points. Glen Abram added 13, Pat Johnson-Agwu netted 12 and Jeremiah Moore scored 11.

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