WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The eighth-ranked West Liberty University men’s basketball team put a bow on its three-game home stand to start the season with a 93-76 win over Pitt-Johnstown improving to 3-0 on the young season.

After a 5-0 start by the Mountain Cats, West Liberty rattled off 11 straight points to get in front. Ben Sarson started the scoring with a three-pointer, then Stephen Cannady hit back-to-back long balls, and a Dante Spadafora jumper capped off the early run.

Pitt-Johnstown clawed back to tie the game three times midway through the first half, but the Black and Gold never fell behind. Christian Montague hit a three at the 10 minute mark giving WLU a lead they would never relinquish. Just over five minutes later, Bryce Butler came out of the media timeout and hit a triple to put the Hilltoppers up double-digits for the first time in the game (38-27).

Quick three pointers from Sarson and Cannady in the opening minute of the second half extended the advantage to 15. West Liberty went on to cruise to victory, leading by double digits for all but two minutes in the second half.

Malik McKinney scored a career-high 24 points, with 17 coming in the second half, to lead all scorers. Cannady added 18 on 4-of-6 shooting from deep, while Montague drained three from beyond the arc and had 13 points. Butler made his presence felt all over the court as he put up his second double-double of the season, scoring 11 points and pulling down 10 boards along with five steals.

The Hilltoppers swiped 17 steals on the night and turned them into 31 points. Even though the rebounding margin was even, West Liberty commanded the offensive end grabbing 11 and only allowing three.

The Black and Gold got up 23 more shots than the Mountain Cats. It was an early season best mark from deep for the Hilltoppers connecting on 35% of their attempts (14-40).

West Liberty will make its first road trip of the season on Saturday, as conference play begins at Alderson Broaddus. Tip off is scheduled for 4 pm.