West Liberty WV – The Hilltoppers stormed out to a big lead early shooting 77% for nearly the first 15 minutes including getting and early 16-4 lead. They would cool off only slightly, but not nearly enough for the Shepherd Rams to get back into it. It was just way too much Topper offense as they were red hot from outside the arc. The final score at the ASRC in West Liberty, The Hilltoppers 115 and the Shepherd Rams 78. The win further distanced the #1 ranked Hilltoppers in the Standings including giving them their 18th straight win and 13-0 record in the conference.
West Liberty set an NCAA Record as they had 11 different players converted from 3 point range. One of those players, Dalton Bolon was a one man wrecking crew in that first half as he was perfect from outside going 4-4 with 16 points. It was not just the hot shooting though, as the Hilltoppers press badgered the Rams all over the court. Turning Shepherd over 9 times and scored 19 points off those turnovers in the first half alone.
The second half was much more of the same as Shepherd was just out-manned tonight. The Hilltoppers were able to create points from the line also shooting 90% from the charity stripe converting 18-20.
Dalton would cool off in the second half and so would his playing time as West Liberty was up by as many as 30 at one point. West Liberty was also tough on the boards throughout the night out-rebounding the Rams 48-39.
Shepherd was led by Carr, Burgess and Lang and would get a nice game coming off the bench from Derek McKnight. But the Rams lacked depth and as the Toppers would roll in 5 new guys, the Rams Could not counter. Struggling all night guarding against the 3, the Hilltoppers would take advantage shooting quickly and converting often.
The Final Score at the ASRC, West Liberty 115-78. The Toppers would finish with 6 players in double figures including James Griffin leading the way with 17, Bolon and Monteroso both with 16. Brandon Smith would kick in 13 and Both Watson and Primmer would pitch in 11 a piece.
I asked Coach Howlett about their fast start. I mentioned that a coach sometimes knows when his team has a particular edge and is ready to play. He said, “the funny thing about this week, I don’t think we practiced all that well. I like to get after it. We were more loose than I was comfortable with. (later)After their response, maybe we should be a little loose more often.”
West Liberty will now look ahead to the weekend as they will face off against arch rival Fairmont St. on the road Saturday.