WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF)–The West Liberty University men’s basketball team has wrapped a record-breaking season. 

From the Mountain East Conference title game to the NCAA Division II National Championship, the Hilltoppers have had quite the journey.  

Defending the hilltop, the Black and Gold never lost at home and finished the season 33-4 overall.  

They went on an 18-game winning streak, knocking down some of the best division two programs in the county.  

When the season began the Hilltoppers welcomed seven new athletes to the program. 

Bring in so many new guys it was kind of weird at first. Everyone was kind of by themselves, but I think this year we are super close. One of the closest teams I’ve ever been on and obviously off the court and on the court as weel. It displays itself on the court. We don’t care who scores. We don’t care who gets what accolade. We’re just here for each other and want to win.

Alek West, Junior Guard

Over the year West Liberty began to thrive. 

They averaged 100 points per game and ended their regular season 20-2.  

West Liberty was the first team in Mountain East Conference history to win back-to-back conference titles when they took down Fairmont State.  

History Made As West Liberty Wins Back-To-Back MEC Tournament Championship

The message at halftime was don’t get comfortable, let’s get uncomfortable again and I think we did that. It always helps when you’re making shots at the rate that we made shots today and everyone contributed to this win.

Ben Howlett, West Liberty head coach

It feels good to see my hard work pay off, but it wouldn’t have been done without these teammates and these coaches. I owe it all to them. I love these guys.  

Bryce Butler, Junior Guard

Then fighting for the crown at IUP, the Black and Gold took down No. 1 seed the Crimson Hawks in the Athletic Regional Championship 70-53. 

That punched their ticket to the Elite Eight for the 7th time in their past 13 seasons.  

The Hilltoppers Punch Their Ticket To The NCAA Division II National Championship

We’ve been putting in a lot of work in since August and we’ve been doing this everyday so for these guys to be awarded with a championship was a really good feeling.

Ben Howlett, West Liberty head coach.

After their first appearance in the national championship in 2014, the Toppers returned to the title game, this time against their former head coach Jim Crutchfield and the Nova Southeastern Sharks.  

West Liberty To Battle Nova Southeastern And Former Coach In National Championship

The first half combined 103 points are the most ever scored in a half in a division two championship game. 

Ultimately the Hilltoppers fell to the Sharks 111-101.  

Historic Run For West Liberty Comes To A Heartbreaking Conclusion

You know we’re made for comebacks. We never quit and just made some really stupid plays throughout the game. Plays we typically don’t make and that’s frustrating but again, we lost in the national championship game. A lot of teams would kill to be here so, I’m happy that we got here. I’m not happy that we lost the game.

Ben Howlett, West Liberty head coach

The Hilltoppers’ 101 points are the second-most ever scored in an Elite Eight championship game.  

They set an Elite Eight championship game record with 16 3-point field goals. 

An unforgettable season and a historic run for West Liberty.