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WLU Clips Falcons

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – The No. 4-ranked West Liberty men’s basketball team led for all but 15 seconds here Wednesday night and maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half in an impressive 96-84 win at No. 21 Fairmont State.

Coach Ben Howlett’s Hilltoppers (3-0) overcame a poor shooting night with a dominant performance on the glass, winning the rebounding battle by a convincing 52-43 margin with a staggering 23 of those boards coming on the offensive end.

Isaiah Sanders gave the host Falcons (2-1) their only lead of the night, 6-5, with a rainbow 3-pointer in the early going but Will Yoakum answered with a bonus bomb of his own seconds later and the visitors never trailed again.

A Dalton Bolon 3-pointer produced the first double-digit advantage, 26-16, at 8:40 of the opening half and WLU took its biggest lead of the opening period, 45-30, on a rebound hoop by Bryce Butler just 38 seconds before intermission.

Fairmont State struggled from the 3-point arc throughout the night but a 3-pointer from Shem Golek pulled the Falcons within six points, 60-54, as the second half clock hit 9:40.

The Hilltopper defense tightened the screws, holding FSU to just one field goal over the next 3-plus minutes and creating some easy scoring chances off backcourt turnovers against the full-court pressure.

Malik McKinney knifed down the lane for a driving layup with 6:12 remaining, capping a 14-4 West Liberty surge that put the visitors in full control. Fairmont never got the margin under 8 points the rest of the way.

The Hilltoppers’ All-MEC “Big Three” led the way with Bolon tossing in 20 points, Pat Robinson III adding 19 more and Will Yoakum hitting 15 of his 18 points in the second half. Butler impressed off the bench with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while McKinney and Owen Hazelbaker had 10 points each.

Fairmont State got 20 points and a game-high 14 rebounds from Sanders with Cole VonHandorf adding 17 points.

Dale Bonner finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists while Zyon Dobbs and Seth Younkin rounded out the double-figure scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

West Liberty returns home to host Frostburg State on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. at the ASRC.

Castelluci’s career-high 24 lifts Cardinals past Frostburg State, 83-77

FROSTBURG, Md. — A career-high 24 points by sophomore guard Maura Castelluci helped propel the Cardinals to a win over Frostburg State.

The win improves the Wheeling University women’s basketball team to 2-1 this season. The Bobcats now also stand at 2-1 overall.

Castelluci converted 8-of-16 attempts from the field, including a trio of three-point shots, and added six rebounds on the night.

Wheeling junior forward Lilly Ritz continued her torrid start with her third double-double in as many games. Ritz posted 18 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and three steals, despite early foul trouble.

Sophomore guard Emily Holzopfel turned in her second-straight double-digit performance with 16 points and seven boards in the win.

The Cardinals opened up their biggest lead of the opening quarter following a Shanley Woods jumper that made the score 14-8 four minutes into the game. Wheeling maintained the lead throughout the quarter and took an 18-15 edge into the first intermission.

The Cardinals enjoyed the lead throughout the second quarter, including by as many as 10 points. However, a pair of baskets in the final minute by Frostburg State narrowed the Wheeling advantage to 41-36 heading into halftime.

Wheeling once again ran its lead to double-digits, 50-40, with 6:54 left in the third quarter. The Cardinals had an answer for each Bobcat basket, including a rare three-pointer by Ritz in the final thirty seconds of the period to give Wheeling a 60-53 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals led 71-62 following a Castelluci trey with 5:35 remaining in the game. Frostburg State finally made a run and scored 10-unanswered to take its first lead of the night at 72-71 with under four minutes to play.

The score was knotted up two more times, before a basket by Holzopfel with 57 seconds left in the game gave Wheeling a 77-75 lead. The Cardinals managed to knock down free throws and their defensive pressure limited Frostburg State to just two points in the final minute to clinch the win.

The Cardinals hit the glass and held a 52-to-39 edge in the rebounding department and finished with 16 second-chance points. Junior Alysa Edwards-Frick chipped in seven rebounds of her own in 17 minutes off of the bench.

Four Bobcats finished in double-figures, including both Morgan Dombroski and Jada Holland, who had 14 apiece.

Wheeling returns home to the McDonough Center on Saturday, January 16 to host Fairmont State at 2 p.m.

WLU, Fairmont State Women’s Game Postponed

BRIDGEPORT — In accordance with Mountain East Conference protocols, Wednesday’s women’s basketball game between West Liberty and Fairmont State was postponed. The MEC has tentatively rescheduled the contest for tonight at 5:30 p.m.

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