West Liberty Men Win Seventh Straight Game
ELKINS, W.Va. — The No. 22-ranked West Liberty men’s basketball team took over sole possession of first place in the Mountain East Conference North Division here Monday, smothering Davis & Elkins by a 77-59 count inside the McDonnell Center.
The seventh straight win for Coach Ben Howlett’s Hilltoppers (11-3) pushed the Hilltoppers past Fairmont State (10-3) in the division standings. The Falcons saw their own six-game winning streak snapped at Notre Dame (Ohio), 96-85, on Monday.
Although West Liberty came into Monday’s game as the highest-scoring team in the nation, a lengthy first-half shooting drought forced WLU to come up big at the other end of the court in order to keep their winning streak alive.
The Hilltoppers knocked down their first two 3-point attempts of the game in the opening minute but missed 19 of their next 20 long-range bombs and eased into the halftime locker room clinging to a narrow 33-32 lead.
West Liberty began to find the range when play resumed — the Hilltoppers went 8-for-20 from the arc in the second half — while the Senators struggled to generate a consistent attack against a relentless WLU defense as the Hilltoppers began to pull away.
A Bryce Butler 3-pointer capped a 10-2 burst and put West Liberty on top, 58-44, just before the 10-minute mark of the second half. The margin never dropped below double figures the rest of the way and the visitors led by as many as 21 points down the stretch.
The Hilltoppers finished the night holding D&E to just 38 percent (21 of 54) shooting, including 4 of 22 (18 percent) from the 3-point arc. The 27 second-half points and 59 total points were season lows for a potent D&E squad that came into the night averaging better than 80 points a game.
That sterling defensive effort allowed WLU to overcome its worst shooting night of the season – 26-of-71 (36 percent) from the floor and 11-of-42 (26 percent) from the 3-point arc – and still come away with an 18-point road win.
Dalton Bolon led the way with a game-high 19 points, highlighted by 5 of 11 shooting from deep, while Butler added 16 points and seven rebounds to go along 15 points and six boards from Pat Robinson III.
Malik McKinney rounded out the double-figure scorers with 13 points and six rebounds with Luke Dyer knocking down a pair of 3-point field goals while handing out seven assists, snaring six rebounds and picking up three steals.
Breland Walton led four double-figure scorers for the Senators with 16 points.
West Liberty returns home to host Fairmont State on Wednesday with first place in the MEC North on the line. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. inside the ASRC.
West Virginia State 86, Wheeling 68
INSTITUTE — Despite a career-high 28 points from senior guard Jordan Reid , the Cardinals were handed an 86-68 loss at West Virginia State Monday evening.
The Wheeling University men’s basketball team drops to 3-10 overall, while the Yellow Jackets improve to 8-5 this season.
Reid registered a double-double with 28 points on 12 of 22 shooting to go with 11 rebounds. Junior Jay Gentry chipped in 10 points.
The Cardinals got off to a solid start and established a 28-19 lead on a steal-and-score by junior Brent Price with 8:19 to play in the first half.
West Virginia State rallied and tied the game at 29-29 on a basket-and-one near the five-minute mark. The Yellow Jackets then closed the half by out-scoring the Cardinals 15-8 to take a 44-37 lead into the locker rooms.
Five Yellow Jackets scored in double figures, led by a 23-point performance by Glen Abram.
The Cardinals will play the second of its four games this week on Wednesday, February 24 when it travels to Phillipi, West Virginia to take on Alderson Broaddus around 7:30 p.m.