Hilltoppers cruise by Glenville

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. The No. 7-ranked West Liberty University men’s basketball team bolted out to a 15-point lead in the first 10 minutes and led by as many as 22 points in the second half Saturday before coasting to an 88-72 win against Glenville State in an NCAA Division II Atlantic Region quarterfinal at Koehler Fieldhouse.

Coach Jim Crutchfield’s No. 2-seeded Hilltoppers (27-3) will take on No. 3 seed Indiana, Pa. (24-4) today at 5 p.m. in the regional semifinal. The No. 15-ranked Vulcans outlasted West Chester, 75-68, in Saturday’s first quarterfinal.

West Liberty had rolled to a pair of double-digit wins against the Pioneers (18-11) during the regular season and had little trouble finishing off the hat trick.

The teams traded hoops for the first few minutes but it didn’t take long for the Hilltoppers’ full-court pressure to turn momentum in favor of the 3-time defending regional champions.

Donte Morales gave Glenville its final lead of the day, 6-5, on a 3-pointer with 16:47 showing on the first half clock.

After a Seger Bonifant 10-footer put WLU ahead to stay, 7-6, at 16:24, Shawn Dyer dropped in a 15-footer off a quick steal in the backcourt for a 9-6 lead with 16:13. C.J. Hester cashed in another Pioneer turnover for an 11-6 bulge at 16:01 and the Black and Gold were on their way.

The lead hit 15 points, 25-10, at 10:35 when C.J. finished off a pretty feed from Dyer in the paint and ballooned to 19 points, 40-21, when Dyer was fouled after sailing coast-to-coast for a layup and dropped in the free throw with 6:22 left in the half.

Glenville refused to fold and mounted a late charge that closed the gap to 43-36 with a minute left in the half but Bubby Goodwin’s 3-pointer as time wound down sent West Liberty into the locker room with a 46-36 lead.

The Pioneers were able to stay in touch for the first five minutes of the second half, cutting the lead to 56-48 on a conventional 3-point play by Morales with 14:24 on the clock.

The Hilltoppers responded with a 14-0 run to put the game on ice, fueled by 3-pointers from four different players.