Notre Dame Shocks No. 1-Ranked Hilltoppers - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Notre Dame Shocks No. 1-Ranked Hilltoppers

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Notre Dame (OH) used a 16-0 run to take the lead midway through the second half and held on down the stretch to hand No. 1-ranked West Liberty its first loss of the season, 89-87, Thursday night before a stunned crowd at the ASRC.

The Hilltoppers (16-1, 12-1) had a chance to pull it out at the end but Shawn Dyer's potential game-winning 3-pointer rimmed out as waning seconds ticked off the clock. The horn sounded during the scramble for the rebound, ending West Liberty's 60-game home conference winning streak.
"If that shot had dropped at the end, we'd probably be having a different conversation," head coach Jim Crutchfield said, "but whether Shawn's last-second shot goes in or not, it wouldn't have changed the way we played for the first 39 minutes and 59 seconds.
"When good teams have bad shooting nights, they make enough defensive stops at the other end to still come out with the win," head coach Jim Crutchfield said. "We didn't do that tonight."
The Falcons (7-11, 5-7) came out with all guns blazing and led for most of the first half, pulling out to a 9-point advantage, 41-32, on a free throw by Kalomo Figueroa-Jackson with 4:46 left in the half.
Devin Hoehn answered with a 12-foot jumper and followed up with a 3-pointer to spark one of the Hilltoppers' patented scoring blitzes.
West Liberty outscored Notre Dame, 25-6, over the final 4 1/2 minutes of the opening half to take a 57-47 lead into the locker room at intermission. Hoehn accounted for 15 of the 25 points.
Both teams struggled during the first 5 minutes of the second half, squandering numerous scoring opportunities and trading turnovers more frequently than baskets.
"It's easy to look at the final few possessions of a one-possession game," Crutchfield said, "but if this game was lost anywhere, it was lost in the first 5 or 6 minutes of the second half. 
"We had a double-digit lead and several chances to really open things up but we missed a lot of quality shots, didn't rebound and gave up too many easy transition baskets."
Trailing 65-57 with 14:32 remaining, the Falcons' Lawrence DeArmond ignited what proved to be the key sequence of the night.
The rangy guard cashed in a conventional 3-point play and followed up with a fast break layup to make it 65-62 as the clock ticked past the 14-minute mark. Figueroa-Jackson finished off another fast break, cutting the margin to 65-64, before DeArmond shook loose in transition again to put Notre Dame ahead to stay, 66-65, with 12:48 on the clock.
The Falcons eventually turned their 8-point deficit into an 8-point lead, 73-65, when Tyree Gaiter beat everybody down the floor for a fast break layup that capped a 16-0 Notre Dame run with 11:07 to play.
West Liberty cut the lead to one or two points on several occasions down the stretch but the visitors were able to come up with enough crucial hoops to keep the Hilltoppers at bay.
"I thought we were getting a little sloppy in practice yesterday and we talked about that," Crutchfield said. "The most important thing on defense is having a strong desire to keep the other guy from scoring. I didn't see enough of that tonight. You can't expect to just outscore people every night."
Coming off a school-record 30 3-pointers in a win at Urbana on Saturday, West Liberty made just 11-of-39 shots from behind the arc Thursday night – including a paltry 4-of-19 in the second half.
Hoehn and Cedric Harris led the Hilltoppers with 21 points each. Keene Cockburn added 13 points, Seger Bonifant chipped in with 11 and C.J. Hester posted a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
DeArmond had 27 points and a dozen rebounds for the Falcons, who also got 23 points and 7 assists from Gaiter to go along with 19 points from Jarvis Huntley.
West Liberty will try to bounce back on Saturday when the Hilltoppers host second-place Charleston (13-4, 10-3) in a key Mountain East Conference showdown. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. at the ASRC.