Top-Seeded Hilltoppers Blow By Notre Dame - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Top-Seeded Hilltoppers Blow By Notre Dame

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No. 3-ranked and top-seeded West Liberty shot 60 percent from the floor and drained 13 3-pointers Friday night in racing away to a 107-86 victory against No. 9 seed Notre Dame (OH) in a Mountain East Conference Tournament quarterfinal at the Civic Center Coliseum.

Coach Jim Crutchfield's Hilltoppers (25-2) advanced to Saturday's 8:15 p.m. semifinal against No. 4 seed Fairmont State (19-9), which held off No. 5 seed W.Va. Wesleyan, 70-62, in Friday's other semifinal.
The Ohio-based Falcons (11-19) had shocked West Liberty, 89-87, at the ASRC on Jan. 30 but the Hilltoppers wasted little time putting Friday's rematch in the bank.
Notre Dame took its only lead of the game, 5-4, on a pair of Lawrence DeArmond free throws at 17:09 of the opening half but Shawn Dyer put WLU ahead to stay with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and the Black and Gold was on its way.
Tyrone Gaiter almost single-handedly kept the Falcons' collective heads above water during the first 20 minutes as he poured in 21 points during the first half but the Hilltoppers stretched their advantage as high as 14 points on several occasions before settling for a 51-38 halftime lead.
"The big difference between this game and the last game we played them was defense," Crutchfield said, "specifically transition defense. They have some really talented guys – I think Gaiter had 21 points in the first 15 minutes – but we didn't give them a lot of easy scores tonight.
"I thought we had several guys step up and play good, solid team defense, especially in the second half. That's what wins games for you at this time of year."
Devon Hoehn and Keene Cockburn drained back-to-back 3-pointers to push the gap to 59-40 in the first two minutes of the second half and the lead never dropped below double-figures again. West Liberty led by as many as 29 points coming down the stretch.
The Hilltoppers shot 60 percent (39-of-65) from the floor, 46 percent (13-of-28) from the 3-point arc and 80 percent (16-of-20) from the charity stripe in cracking the century mark for the 18th time this season.
West Liberty also out rebounded Notre Dame, 34-24, and had a whopping 26-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
Dyer had an outstanding game off the bench with 27 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds while Kelvin Goodwin delivered a career-high 24 points off the pine. C.J. Hester added 16 points and 8 rebounds, Hoehn finished with 14 points and MEC Player of the Year Cedric Harris chipped in with 13 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and a pair of steals.
DeArmond, the MEC's leading scorer, had 20 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 32 points. Gaiter, the league's second-leading scorer, had 23 points in a losing cause.
GAME NOTES
X West Liberty defeated Fairmont State, 92-78, in last year's WVIAC Tournament championship game
X Crutchfield is 22-2 against FSU during his 10 seasons with the Hilltoppers
X Friday's quarterfinal win was WLU's 10th consecutive victory in conference tournament play. West Liberty won the last three West Virginia Conference championships
X Crutchfield is now 20-6 in league tournament action
X The Hilltoppers are 119-4 (.967) over the past 5 seasons when holding their opponents under 90 points
X West Liberty has won 75 consecutive games when scoring 100 or more points