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National Spotlight Shines on Brunner

WLU star gleamed during senior year

Photo by Kyle Lutz West Liberty standout Morgan Brunner was among the nation’s best during her senior season.

WEST LIBERTY – West Liberty University senior Morgan Brunner wrapped up her women’s basketball career in record-setting fashion this season, leading the nation in multiple categories and setting a pair of school records in the process.

A 5-foot-9 shooting guard who began her collegiate career at Youngstown State, Brunner knocked down an NCAA Division II season-high 111 3-point field goals to lead the nation for the second consecutive season while also ranking No. 1 nationally in free throw percentage (75 of 78, .962).

That made Brunner the first NCAA D2 woman ever to lead the nation in 3-point field goals and free throw percentage in the same season.

Making that “double” even more impressive is the fact that Brunner’s 96.2 percent foul shooting this winter was the second-highest in Division II history. Jamey Gelhar of Saint Martin’s (Wash.) set the all-time NCAA women’s record in 2008-09 when she went 94-of-97 (96.9 percent) from the stripe.

“We knew we were getting a big-time shooter when Morgan joined our program,” coach Kyle Cooper said, “but she even exceeded our expectations with the way she shot the basketball. It’s incredible to lead the country in any statistical category but to do so in two categories is flat-out unreal.”

Brunner played in 60 games at West Liberty and drained four or more 3-pointers in 34 of them. Despite spending just two seasons at WLU, Brunner’s 214 career bonus bombs rank among the Top 10 all-time in WLU’s impressive pantheon of long-range artists.

The Hilltopper program has produced at least one national statistical champion in 15 of the past 21 seasons with this marking the ninth time in the last 19 seasons that a West Liberty woman led the nation in 3-point field goals. Brunner joins Tara Johnson (2003-04) and NCAA career record holder Laura Malernee (2009-10) as the three Lady Hilltoppers to lead the nation in back-to-back years.

“Morgan was a great fit for our system because I think it would be hard to find a program that puts as much emphasis on the 3-point shot as we do here at West Liberty,” Cooper said. “The record book shows we’ve done it on a really high level for a really long time and I can assure you that we’re going to keep doing it.”

The Linsly alum also leaves the hilltop as West Liberty’s career and single-season leader from the charity stripe. She broke her own single-season school foul shooting record of 88.1 percent from a year ago with this season’s stellar performance to finish her career at 127 of 137 (92.7 percent).

Brunner and Glenville State’s Emily Stoller each finished with 111 3-pointers to share the No. 1 spot, although Stoller needed 31 games compared to 29 for Brunner.

The Hilltopper senior just missed adding a third national statistical title to her collection this year, finishing No. 2 nationally with 3.83 3-Point Field Goals/Game. Ava Battese of Cameron (Okla.) claimed that crown with 101 3-pointers in 24 games for a 4.21 average.

The Hilltoppers have made at least one 3-point field goal in every game for the past 27 years – an NCAA women’s record 802 consecutive games – and finished the 2019-20 season ranked No. 4 nationally with 307 3-pointers.

The WLU women have finished first or second nationally 10 times in the past two decades and have ranked among the nation’s top five 3-point shooting teams in 17 of the last 21 seasons.

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