MEC champs oust West Liberty women in D2

GLENVILLE, W.Va. — A stellar season for the West Liberty University women’s basketball team came to a disappointing end here Friday night as the Black and Gold fell to No. 18-ranked Glenville State, 116-92, in an NCAA Division II Atlantic Region quarterfinal at the Waco Center.

The top-seeded Pioneers (30-2) came out with all guns blazing, shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor in the first half, but Coach Kyle Cooper’s Hilltoppers (21-10) were able to keep the pace in the early going.

West Liberty trailed just 31-25 after a blurry fast opening quarter but with All-America center Marissa Brown missing long stretches of action due to foul problems, the host Pioneers began to stretch things out in the second quarter.

“Give Glenville credit,” Cooper said. “They just come at you in waves and they were really dialed in tonight. That team is possessed. My girls played hard and fought like heck but when you have to weather storm after storm after storm, it wears on you as a player and a coach.”

A Ty Armstrong 3-pointer put GSC up, 50-34, at the under-5 media timeout but a layup from Brown and a 3-point bomb by Morgan Brunner trimmed the margin to 54-44 before Brown went to the bench with her third foul three minutes before the end of the half.

Glenville scored 10 of the next 13 points for a 64-47 lead and coasted into intermission with a 64-50 bulge.

The Pioneers never took their foot of the gas in the second half, breaking the game open with an 18-4 burst over a 3-minute span that turned a 70-56 edge into an insurmountable 88-60 advantage. Glenville carried a 92-69 lead into the fourth quarter and led by as many as 35 points down the stretch.

Brown, the MEC Player of the Year, led all scorers in her final collegiate game with 25 points and passed the 400-rebound career mark with her 9 retrieves.

“We are such a close-knit group I think this team really does have something special,” Brown said. “We were 9-7 at one point but we never gave up and battled back to win 21 games and make the NCAA Tournament. It was a great run and the best part about it is that I got to do it with my friends.

Brunner and Olivia Belknap added 19 and 17 points off the bench while Brandi Beader and Taylor Johnson finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Audrey Tingle checked off a lot of boxes on the stat sheet with 7 points, 6 rebounds and a game-high 8 assists.

Emily Stoller paced six double-figure scorers for Glenville State with 21 points as third-year head coach Kim Stephens improved to 38-0 in games played on the Pioneers’ home court.

“I just want to thank my seniors for the leadership and character they’ve shown in helping bring this program back to where it belongs,” Cooper said. “They are very special young women and I’m tremendously proud to have been their coach.”