No. 12 West Liberty Snaps Charleston’s Home Win Streak
CHARLESTON — Dalton Bolon scored 25 points and the No. 12-ranked West Liberty University men’s basketball team handed Charleston its first home loss of the season, 98-89, Saturday afternoon at the Wehrle Center.
Coach Ben Howlett’s Hilltoppers (11-2, 7-1 Mountain East Conference) shot 57 percent from the floor — including a sizzing 60 percent from the 3-point arc — to snap the Golden Eagles’ (9-5, 4-4) six-game home win streak.
After opening up a 48-37 halftime lead, West Liberty had to battle through significant foul trouble during the final 20 minutes. The Hilltoppers lost two players on fouls and had four other players with four personal fouls coming down the stretch.
That opened the door for UC to chip away at the deficit from the foul line. The Golden Eagles got as close as 74-73 following a pair of Drew Rackley free throws with 6:36 to go but that’s where West Liberty slammed the door.
Back-to-back baskets by Luke Dyer and Eric Meininger sparked what proved to be a decisive 15-3 Hilltoppers run over the next three minutes.
After Marlon Moore drained a dagger of a 3-pointer to restore the double-digit margin, 86-75, Bolon capped the surge with a spinning jumper in the lane for an 88-75 lead at the 3:30 mark and Charleston never threatened again.
Freshman guard Yahel Hill backed Bolon with 19 points — 11 of them in the second half — while Moore had another big game off the bench with 17 points before fouling out. Senior post Eric Meininger rounded out the double-figure scorers with a dozen points, seven rebounds and three assists before also exiting the game on fouls.
The Hilltoppers shot 36 of 63 (57 percent) from the floor and were 9 of 15 (60 percent) from the 3-point line. After shooting four free throws in the first half, they went 14 of 15 from the stripe in the second half, with many of them coming as Charleston fouled down the stretch.
West Liberty was whistled for a season-high 30 fouls and UC took full advantage, going 35-for-41. The Golden Eagles also shot 52 percent (26-of-50) from the floor but were just 2 of 13 (15 percent) from the 3-point arc.
W.Va. State 102
Wheeling Jesuit 89
INSTITUTE — Wheeling Jesuit went into halftime with the lead, but came up short to West Virginia State.
The Cardinals fall to 1-13 overall, 0-8 in the MEC with the loss. The Yellow Jackets improve to 3-5 in the MEC, 6-8 overall with the win.
Junior center Jeremiah April scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Freshman forward DeAndre Robinson made seven of 11 shots from the field and drained two three pointers to lead the Cardinals with 16 points.
W.Va. State 104
Wheeling Jesuit 79
CHARLESTON — Wheeling Jesuit dropped to 3-11 (1-7 in the MEC) in a loss to W.Va. State.
Senior forward Chenelle Moore racked up her ninth double-double of the season and led the Cardinals with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and six steals. Junior guard Khira Burton added 13 points, while sophomore Tori Harrison supplemented 11 points.
No. 25 Charleston 87
West Liberty 84
CHARLESTON — Charleston overcame a 25-point, second-half deficit to hand West Liberty a frustrating setback.
It was the 12th straight win for the host Golden Eagles (13-1, 8-0) but Coach Kyle Cooper’s upset-minded Hilltoppers (8-6, 5-3) certainly made them work for it.
West Liberty’s perimeter shooting helped the visitors come storming out of the blocks in a dominating first half performance.
The Hilltoppers were a sizzling 10-for-18 from the 3-point arc in the first 20 minutes, taking their biggest lead of the half, 49-25, on an Olivia Belknap 3-point bomb with 1:31 on the clock before settling for a 51-29 lead at the break.
West Liberty appeared ready to pick up where it left off when play resumed as Audrey Tingle drove to the hoop to give WLU its biggest lead of the game, 56-31, with 8:20 on the third quarter clock.
Unfortunately for West Liberty, Charleston found the range just as the Hilltoppers began to run into foul difficulty.
West Liberty’s All-America center Marissa Brown, the focus of UC’s defensive efforts for much of the day, missed much of the third quarter after picking up her third foul and the hosts made the most of their opportunity.
The Golden Eagles shot a blistering 12 of 14 from the floor during the quarter, cutting the margin down to single digits, 70-61, heading into the final 10 minutes.
Charleston kept the momentum going and finally took the lead, 73-72, on a Raziyah Farrington 10-footer with 6:39 on the clock.
West Liberty didn’t go away quietly. The Hilltoppers scored 10 of the next 14 points to go up, 82-75, with 4:37 to play but the UC defense held WLU without a field goal the rest of the way and closed the game on a 12-2 run.
Beader leading four double-figure scorers for the Hilltoppers with 20 points while Belknap was credited with 13 points and four assists. Tingle had 11 points, five rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals.