INSTITUTE, W.Va. - The West Liberty University women's basketball team earned its first win over a nationally ranked opponent in 12-plus years Wednesday evening at No. T24 West Virginia State, 101-92.
The Hilltoppers eclipsed the century mark for the second time this season behind a 57.8% shooting night, the second best of the season, and 15 three pointers in 30 attempts (50%) tying a season-best mark from beyond the arc.
Arriana Manzay scored a game-high 26 points converting at an elite rate from the floor (11-for-13). Manzay paced five 'Toppers in double digits and three above 20 points. Grace Faulk and Karly McCutcheon each drained five three pointers finishing with 23 and 21 points, respectively. McCutcheon also pulled down a team-leading nine rebounds, while Faulk was one of three Hilltoppers to dish out six assists. Faulk's 23 points were a career-high in her fourth season in the Black and Gold.
West Liberty (13-8, 11-4) jumped out of the gates scoring the first seven points and then built a 15-3 lead just over two minutes into the game. The Yellow Jackets (16-4, 11-4) responded with 13 straight points to take its first lead of the game four minutes later.
After West Virginia State took a three-point (28-25) lead after the first quarter, the Hilltoppers had another strong start to the second quarter. Manzay netted eight points on a 14-5 start to the second frame, as WLU regained the lead and stretched it to six points. The Black and Gold kept rolling in the second quarter and held a 10-point (56-46) advantage at the half, after a 31-18 second frame in which they shot 65%. Overall in the first half, West Liberty outshot West Virginia State 63.9% to 41% with double the amount of long balls (8-to-4) and nearly double points in the paint (30-16).
Faulk drained three third quarter triples to help keep the Hilltoppers in front, as they took an eight point lead into the final 10 minutes.
West Virginia State kept trying to fight back on its home court, but West Liberty had an answer every time. McCutcheon swished a pair of clutch threes midway through the fourth quarter and an 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line in the final 3:30 sealed the deal for the Black and Gold.
Corinne Thomas made each of her first four three-point attempts and finished with 12 points, while adding seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. Sonia Sarda scored 11 points with six assists, four rebounds, two steals, and a block. Thomas and Sarda were the lone 'Toppers to fill all five of those stat columns.
West Liberty assisted on a season-high 28 of its 37 made baskets, Bailey Beckstedt joined McCutcheon and Sarda with a career-best six assists.
The Hilltoppers outshot the Yellow Jackets 15-6 from beyond the arc.
The last win over a ranked opponent was on December 11, 2010, 88-83, over No. 25 ranked California (Pa).
West Liberty will host Charleston on Saturday at 2 pm inside the ASRC for its next matchup.