WHEELING, W.Va. – The West Liberty University men’s basketball team, the No. 1 seed and defending tournament champions, took care of business in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Tournament, downing No. 8 Concord, 96-72, Friday night at WesBanco Arena.

Bryce Butler scored 18 points, pulled in 10 rebounds, and had a team-high four assists to lead five Hilltoppers in double figures in a game West Liberty controlled seemingly from start to finish.

After Concord scored the first basket of the game, Ben Sarson put in back-to-back layups and the Hilltoppers never trailed after that. The Mountain Lions tied the game twice, but West Liberty was able to create separation behind a 12-2 run. A Zach Rasile three pointer at the 11:40 mark gave the Hilltoppers their first double-digit lead of the game (19-9). The sides went back and forth the rest of the first half and West Liberty owned a 39-28 advantage at the break.

Concord got within six points just over two minutes into the second half. The Hilltoppers answered by rattling off a 10-0 spurt, which featured five points by Christian Montague to quickly put them up 16 points (52-36). WLU never let the game get back within 14 points after that and cruised to victory.

The Black and Gold scored the final five points of the game to secure its largest margin (+24) at the final horn. West Liberty shot over 57% in the second half (20-for-35) and finished the night 35-for-68 (51.5%) from the floor with 12 three pointers. The ‘Topper defense held the Mountain Lions to just five triples and 42.6% shooting in the game.

Montague ended with 15 points featuring three triples and Sarson netted 11 with eight rebounds.

Rasile made each of his first four three point attempts and finished with 14 points, while Alek West scored 11, all in the first half, leading a reserve unit that outscored Concord’s 43-12. 11 different Hilltoppers scored in a balanced attack.

West Liberty forced 18 turnovers, owning a +6-turnover margin, leading to a 22-10 edge in points off turnovers and a 17-3 fast break scoring advantage.

Despite being slightly outrebounded on the offensive end (16-12), WLU outscored Concord 22-11 in second chance points and held a +2 overall rebounding margin.

The Hilltoppers advance to the semifinals Saturday at 6 p.m. against No. 5 Notre Dame right back inside WesBanco Arena.