Hoehn Shoots No.1 West Liberty Past Charleston

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Devin Hoehn poured in a career-high 36 points and No. 1-ranked West Liberty maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half here Saturday as the Hilltoppers coasted past Charleston, 82-70, at the ASRC.

Preseason All-America C.J. Hester missed his second straight game due to injury but Coach Jim Crutchfield’s hosts picked up the slack once again as Hoehn, a 6-0 sophomore guard from Parkersburg, W.Va., eclipsed his previous career-high by halftime with 27 points before intermission.

Charleston (1-2, 0-1), coming off a 21-win season and an NCAA Tournament bid, ran the shot clock down into single digits on a number of early possessions in an attempt to control the tempo but West Liberty (4-0, 1-0) made that strategy backfire by stringing together several defensive stops.

The Hilltoppers’ Seger Bonifant attracted most of UC’s defensive attention as he entered the game averaging better than 29 points a night but that merely opened things up for Hoehn, who had led WLU in 3-point field goals as a freshman last season.

Hoehn scored 14 of West Liberty’s first 16 points as the hosts opened up a 16-6 lead less than 8 minutes after the opening tip.

Charleston’s Jevonte Hughes cut the margin to 19-10 with a slashing drive to the hoop as the clock ticked under the 11-minute mark but Hoehn hit two free throws and followed up with a rainbow 3-pointer for a 24-10 Hilltopper lead with 10:03 on the first half clock.

Hoehn had accounted for 19 of WLU’s 24 points at that juncture and the Golden Eagles never got the margin into single digits again.

Hoehn sent WLU into the locker room with a 41-24 halftime lead with a driving layup for his 27th point, wiping out his previous career-high of 26 points with a half of basketball still to play.

West Liberty led by as many as 20 points in the second half but Charleston managed to chip away at the margin, cutting it to 77-66 with less than 2 minutes remaining.

The Hilltoppers calmly ran the clock down into single digits before Brandon Smith found Bonifant alone in the corner for a dagger of a 3-pointer with 1:26 on the clock.

“This was a big win for us against a very good Charleston team,” Crutchfield said. “I thought we shared the ball very well again and we had several guys step up and give us a lift when we needed it. It was a good team win.”

Hoehn was 6-for-8 from the 3-point arc to account for half of his 36 points. The increasingly-versatile Bonifant worked the paint for several of his 18 points while collecting 8 rebounds and handing out 4 assists – both team-highs.

Hughes paced UC with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Chris Evans and Tino DiTrapano added 15 and 10 points, respectively.

The Hilltoppers take their No. 1 ranking on the road for the first time Monday with a 7:30 p.m. game at West Virginia State.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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