Hilltopper men score 136 in rout of Point Park
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. Point Park came into the ASRC determined to run with No. 1 West Liberty Monday night and that game plan suited the high-powered Hilltoppers to a “three.”
West Liberty drained a season-high 17 3-point field goals and never trailed in racing away to a 136-84 victory before a near-sellout crowd at the ASRC.
“That’s why we like to play each other,” Hilltopper head coach Jim Crutchfield said. “Point Park plays an up-tempo style and they’re pretty good at it but we like to run, as well, so it’s a good non-conference test for both teams.”
West Liberty (5-0) wasted little time passing its test with flying colors, jetting out to a 13-3 lead in the first four minutes and stretching it out to a 67-47 advantage by halftime.
The Hilltoppers, who have led NCAA Division II in scoring six of the last seven seasons, found the range from the perimeter in the second half and quickly turned the runaway into a blowout.
After making just 7-of-22 shots from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes, West Liberty drained 10-of-22 long-range shots in the second half.
“I was glad to see some of those shots start to drop in the second half,” Crutchfield said. “We missed several shots in the first half and I saw a couple of guys turning down open looks at a three to put the ball on the floor and that’s just not West Liberty basketball.
“Playing a team that’s willing to run with us is really good, especially early in the season, because it gives us an opportunity to get a lot more guys involved. All 12 of our guys played in both halves tonight and that’s important because we’re going to wind up needing those guys at some point down the road.”
All 12 Hilltoppers made at least one field goal and no West Liberty player got more than 24 minutes of court time. Coupled with the hosts’ 66-41 domination on the backboards and 21 Pioneer turnovers, WLU wound up taking 107 shots from the floor and made more than half of them (56) in an impressive performance.
Chris Morrow led six double-figure scorers with 22 points while Cedric Harris had a double-double with 21 points and 11 assists. True freshman Seger Bonifant came off the bench with 21 points while Alex Falk stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals.
Keene Cockburn and Shawn Dyer rounded out the double-figure scorers with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Point Park (5-2), the defending NAIA national scoring champion, got 22 points from Jimmy Taylor while 6-9 Babatunde Somoye muscled in 20 points and cleared a game-high 11 rebounds.
“We’re playing pretty good basketball right now for this early in the season,” Crutchfield said. “There’s still plenty of room for improvement but I like where we’re at right now.”
The Hilltoppers return to West Virginia Conference action on Thursday with a 7:30 p.m. game at Ohio Valley.