Late Three Sinks Hilltoppers in MEC Tournament Final - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Late Three Sinks Hilltoppers in MEC Tournament Final

Posted: Updated:

Xavier Humphrey drained a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left here Sunday to give No. 2 seed Charleston a 63-60 upset of top-seeded and No. 3-ranked West Liberty in the inaugural Mountain East Conference Tournament championship game at the Civic Center Coliseum.

The Golden Eagles (21-8), who entered the contest ranked No. 4 in the region, held the nation's highest-scoring team to its fewest points in Coach Jim Crutchfield's 10 years at the helm as the Hilltoppers (26-3) shot just 37 percent (21-of-57) from the floor in a see-saw game that saw 6 ties and 11 lead changes.

Neither team led by more than 4 points in the final 8 minutes of a surprising defensive struggle as West Liberty had swept the regular-season series from the Golden Eagles by scores of 89-76 and 103-71.

Dino DiTrapano's runner with 3:13 to go capped an 11-2 Charleston run that gave UC its largest lead of the game at 58-54 but the Hilltoppers – who were gunning for their fourth straight league tourney title – answered quickly with a Shawn Dyer leaner to make it 58-56 with 3:03 remaining.

A rebound basket by C.J. Hester forged a 58-58 with 2:12 to go and Hester cleared the rebound of a missed Humphrey 3-pointer to get the ball back at the 1:45 mark.
Free throws by Dyer and Charleston's Fred Harris gave the ball back to WLU with the score tied at 60 and less than a minute remaining.

Dyer lost the ball out of bounds on a drive to the hoop with 44 seconds to play and UC ran the shot clock down into single digits before Humphrey – a Marshall University transfer – popped wide open on the right wing to bury the go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 seconds left. The Hilltoppers couldn't get a game-tying trey to drop as time expired.

Hester had 14 points and 9 rebounds while Dyer added 14 points and 5 boards to pace West Liberty. 

Denzel Douglas paced UC with 16 points but Simpson was a major thorn in the Hilltoppers' side with 15 points – all in the second half – and a game-high 11 rebounds. Humphrey with 14 points and Aleksander Kesic with 10 rounded out the double-figure scorers for UC, which shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in the second half.

Hosting the Atlantic Regional at the ASRC is still a possibility for the Hilltoppers, who will find out tonight on the selection show at 10:30 p.m.