WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – On a snowy Saturday afternoon, the West Liberty University women’s basketball team buried Frostburg State beneath an avalanche of points inside the ASRC.
Coach Kyle Cooper’s Hilltoppers (2-2) took command early and never stopped pulling away in blowing out the visiting Bobcats (2-2) by a 98-44 count.
It was the largest margin of victory in Coach Cooper’s four-year tenure and the biggest by a Lady Hilltopper team since a 113-55 rout of Fairmont State on Nov. 30, 2010.
“That’s an incredible stat,” Cooper said, “but I’m just so proud of this team. Coach (Cassie) Seth and I love coaching them because they want to be good and they are totally bought in to the system so this was really great to see.
“This was a true collective effort. We did a great job sharing the basketball – 25 assists on 31 made baskets is outstanding. Not only were we very efficient on offense, we got a lot of defensive stops and clean rebounds that enabled us to get out and run. When we do that, we can be really dangerous.”
The teams traded baskets for the first few minutes but a 14-0 West Liberty run midway through the first quarter turned a 7-5 deficit into a 19-7 lead and the race was on.
After settling for a 23-15 advantage at the break, WLU outscored Frostburg State by a whopping 23-4 margin in the second quarter to open up a 46-19 halftime lead. The lead hit 73-31 after three quarters and the Black and Gold continued to pull away over the final 10 minutes.
Senior guard Olivia Belknap had a monster game for the hosts, knocking down 30 points and grabbing 9 rebounds – both career-highs – in the first three quarters. She went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe and even had 3 assists and a game-high 3 steals.
Freshman Karly McCutcheon came off the bench to knock down 5 3-pointers en route to a career-high 20 points while sophomore Grace Faulk added 15 more as the WLU bench posted an impressive 43-15 scoring advantage.
“It wasn’t just the 30 points with Olivia that had us so excited for her,” Cooper said. “She was so efficient, her shot selection was outstanding and she really contributed in all phases of the game. I also want to give a shout out to Karly and Grace. We rely on them pretty heavily to give us production off the bench so it was terrific to see them embrace that role and be rewarded for it.”
Arriana Manzay added 12 points and 7 rebounds while Corinne Thomas scored 11 points with a 6-for-6 showing from the charity stripe to go along with 5 assists and 2 steals.
“Corinne had a really solid game for us, as well,” Cooper said. “She does so many little things that don’t show up on the stat line, it was good to see her impact reflected in the numbers today.”
Morgan Dombroski was the only Bobcat to reach double figures, finishing the afternoon with 15 points.
The Lady Hilltoppers will be gunning for their third straight win on Wednesday when they make the long trek south to Concord for a 5 p.m. tipoff.