No. 1-ranked West Liberty shot nearly 63 percent from the floor and held West Virginia State to just 25 second-half points Tuesday night in routing the Yellowjackets, 119-59, in West Virginia Conference action at the ASRC.
Coach Jim Crutchfield's Hilltoppers (7-0, 3-0) burst out of a 16-16 tie by scoring 17 unanswered points in a 3-minute span midway through the opening half and a stunned State (4-4, 2-2) team never recovered.
"I didn't expect that kind of margin against a good team like West Virginia State," Crutchfield said, "but I thought we played really well tonight. We shared the ball probably as well as we have all season and played good enough defense to create some turnovers and get some separation."
West Liberty didn't ease off the accelerator after turning that 16-16 deadlock into a 33-16 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the first half.
Forcing the Yellowjackets into several turnovers which led to easy WLU baskets, the Hilltoppers continued to pull away with Tim Hausfeld's 3-pointer at the buzzer giving them their largest lead of the half at 63-34.
Thanks to a number of transition layups, West Liberty hit 21-of-23 field goal attempts from inside the 3-point arc during the first 20 minutes. The shell-shocked visitors finished the first half with 14 turnovers and zero assists.
"Our goal is to never give the other team a chance to relax," Crutchfield said. "We kept rotating fresh bodies in every few minutes and playing pressure defense. There's a cumulative effect when we're able to keep that up and I think it took its toll tonight."
The second half was pretty much a carbon copy of the first with the lead swelling as high as 62 points in the waning minutes.
Alex Falk and Bubby Goodwin led six double-figure scorers for the Hilltoppers with 17 points each. Cedric Harris had a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists while C.J. Hester also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Keene Cockburn and Chris Morrow rounded out the double-figure scorers with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Every West Liberty player who dressed for the game played at least 11 minutes. Harris, who played 22 minutes, was the only Hilltopper with more than 20 minutes of court time.
"The thing I liked about tonight's game," Crutchfield said, "was not only that everybody got to play, but that everybody got to play significant minutes against a very good basketball team. There will come a time at some point in the season when we'll need some of those players to come off the bench and contribute in a pressure situation so games like this are invaluable."
David Ford was the lone double-figure scorer for State with a game-high 20 points.
West Liberty returns to action on Saturday afternoon when the Hilltoppers host Glenville State in a 4 p.m. game.
X The Hilltoppers have won 73 of their last 75 West Virginia Conference games dating back to the 2008-09 season
X West Liberty is averaging 112.6 ppg. and has won its first seven games by an average of nearly 51 points
X The Hilltoppers improved to 119-9 under Crutchfield when scoring 100 or more points
X West Liberty extended its home conference winning streak to 45 games and is 60-2 in WVIAC games at the ASRC since the end of the 2005-06 season