After just their first loss of the season, it was important to find out how the Hilltoppers would respond. After just 6 minutes of play, it looked as if it was going to be a close game. The Cavaliers of UVA Wise were breaking down West Liberty’s full court pressure. At one point, the Cavs were shooting 75% and within a point, 14-13. From that point, West Liberty outscored the Cavs 47-23 to finish the half with a 61-36 lead. The pace and the pressure just was too much for the Cavaliers in the first half. It was more of the same in the second half as the Hilltoppers would finish off the Cavaliers by the final score of 102-67.
Freshman Dalton Bolon, fouled out in the game against Fairmont but would rebound with 14 points in the first half including 4-7 from three. They Toppers shot nearly 60% from behind the arc making 14-24. Dan Monteroso continued to play at his consistent high level scoring 12 in the first half as the Toppers second leading scorer.
The game was very physical early on, and I asked Freshman Guard Luke Dyer if it seemed a little chippy during that time period. He said, “it was our intention to get out and take it to them. Initiate the play tonight unlike what they did in Fairmont.”
The Cavaliers would get big first half from Chance Sheffey as he scored 15 points. Taiwoo Badmus had 8 points of his own. The rest of the team struggled mightily.
The second half started with a 12-2 scoring run by the Hilltoppers as they would extend the lead to 71-38. Wise struggled inbounding the ball and turning it over on consecutive plays in both the first half and the second half. West Liberty would maintain at least a 30 point lead throughout much of the second half hitting 40 points just briefly. The guys were playing with purpose for sure which led to a big response.
Coach Howlett said “we had two really good practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.” Obviously we wanted to play this game on Tuesday, but I was real pleased with how we practiced and we came out and shot well tonight. That was something we struggled with early on in Fairmont.”
West Liberty would lead 90-49 with just under 10 minutes to play and at that point it was evident that the coaching staff would have the defense relax a bit. The Toppers would finally hit the century mark with just under 2 minutes to play. The final score at the ASRC in West Liberty, Hilltoppers 102 UVA-Wise 67.
The Hilltoppers were led by Dalton Bolon with 16 points, and finished with a total of 6 guys in double digits. It was another game where the scoring was well balanced. Monteroso finished with 15, Griffin 13,Meininger 11, Smith 11, and French 10. As a team they made 39 shots on 24 assists. The Hilltoppers also finished with 50 rebounds, 14 more than the Cavs tonight.
The Cavaliers were led by Sheffey with 20 and Taiwo Badmus at 15 points. They were the only players for Wise that finished in double figures. That was the difference tonight, the Cavs lack depth and balance.
The Hilltoppers will face off against Concord this weekend. Speaking of which, Concord was hammered tonight in Wheeling 94-56 and I am sure they will be looking to rebound this weekend.