Bolon Scores 1,500th Point as WLU Wins 9th Straight

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WHEELING, W.VA (WEST LIBERTY UNIVERSITY)- Dalton Bolon scored his 1,500th career point and the streaking West Liberty University men’s basketball team took over sole possession of first place in the Mountain East Conference Sunday with a 98-86 victory at Wheeling.
    Coach Ben Howlett‘s Hilltoppers (15-3, 10-2) never trailed in the second half, leading by as many as 19 points in taking down the Cardinals (9-7, 6-6) for their ninth straight victory.
    “I think we had several individuals really step up today,” Howlett said. “I thought Dalton and Will (Yoakum) were absolutely incredible. We wound up playing Bryce (Butler) at the ‘5’ for most of the night, a true freshman, and he really gave us some quality minutes.
    “I thought our fans were just unbelievable, as well. It felt like a home game out there tonight!”
    The lead traded hands frequently over the first 15 minutes but West Liberty finished strong to take a 46-40 lead at intermission.
    The Hilltoppers pushed the margin out to nine points several times but the hard-working hosts converted just enough opportunities to keep the game within reach.
    “Give Coach (Will) Ryan a lot of credit,” Howlett said. “He got the job really late but he was able to bring in some really good players and they play really hard. There’s not a team in this league they’re not capable of beating.”
    Bolon finally gave WLU its first double-digit lead, 69-59, with a 3-pointer at 11:52 of the second half. It put the junior All-American over the 1,500-point plateau for his career and touched off one of the Hilltoppers’ signature blackouts.
    A 6-4 junior from Gnadenhutten, Ohio, Bolon became the 21st Hilltopper to pass the 1,500-point milestone and moved up to No. 20 on the school’s career scoring list with 1,511 points.
    “I’m really happy for Dalton,” Howlett said. “His shot has been off a little lately, in practice as well as games, but nobody works harder than he does. I have all the confidence in the world in Dalton. He’s a winner.”
    The Cardinals’ Emmanuel Ansong answered with a short jumper but Yoakum drained a 3-point bomb and fed a streaking Preston Boswell for a fast-break layup off a missed Wheeling dunk attempt for a 74-61 lead. Bolon capitalized on two more defensive stops with back-to-back bonus bombs and WLU had reeled off 11 straight points in a 59-second span, turning a 69-61 lead into an 80-61 bulge.
    “I thought we were close to getting one of our blackouts several times tonight but just couldn’t seem to string enough stops together,” Howlett said. “Preston and Dalton really came up big for us there.”
    Wheeling wasn’t finished. The Cardinals responded with a 15-2 run of their own. A Jarett Haines free throw pulled them within six points, 82-76, with 5:49 to go but WLU held them scoreless for the next three minutes while putting the game on ice.
Pat Robinson III got things started with a twisting drive to the hoop and Yoakum and Bolon followed with back-to-back 3-point daggers for an insurmountable 90-76 lead with under 3 minutes to play.
    Bolon – who finished 6-of-10 from behind the 3-point arc – notched his third consecutive double-double with game-highs of 28 points and 13 rebounds. Yoakum rained in 23 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists as part of WLU’s 1-2 punch.
    Robinson added 15 points and 4 assists while Butler and Boswell joined the double-figure scoring cast with 10 points each. Junior guard Luke Dyer had 5 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and no turnovers in 29 minutes of court time.
    Jordan Reid was the leading scorer for the Cardinals with 24 points while Haines finished with 19 tallies. Jay Gentry and Geron Brathwaite added 13 and 11 points, respectively, in a losing cause.
    Combined with No. 21 Charleston’s 74-72 loss at West Virginia State on Sunday, the two-time defending MEC champion Hilltoppers once again have first place to themselves in the highly-competitive conference.
    “All that means is that the target on our backs just got a little bigger,” Howlett said. “This is an incredibly tough league, especially on the road. We’re thrilled to come out of here with a win tonight but we’re not looking any farther ahead than (Davis & Elkins) on Wednesday.”
    West Liberty welcomes D&E to the ASRC on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.

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

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