WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. - The West Liberty University women's basketball team earned a hard-fought comeback victory Saturday in overtime over Charleston, 87-77, after trailing by as many as 18 points.
Head Coach Kyle Cooper said his team "accepted the challenge" in the locker room, as West Liberty (14-8, 12-4) outscored Charleston (16-5, 12-4) in the second half 42-30 to force overtime, then ran away with it in the extra period in front of the home crowd.
Sonia Sarda tied a career-high with 25 points and dished out six assists leading five Hilltoppers in double digits. Corinne Thomas drained six three pointers and finished with 23 points, five of her threes and 17 of her points came in the second half to lead the comeback effort. Arriana Manzay posted a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double and had two of her three blocks in overtime.
Charleston, who is receiving votes in the national top-25 poll, got ahead early and stayed ahead leading by as many as 18 (34-16) early in the second quarter after a 12-0 run to begin the second frame. The Golden Eagles took a 12-point (43-31) lead into the halftime break.
The Hilltoppers got back within single digits early in the third, but Charleston was right there to go back-and-forth with the Black and Gold taking a nine-point (63-54) advantage to the final 10 minutes.
The Golden Eagles maintained a two-plus possession margin down to the five minute mark, then Thomas bookended a 10-0 West Liberty spurt with three pointers to give the Hilltoppers their first lead since the opening minute of the game at 71-69 with two minutes to play. Charleston battled back with two straight scores, then a Thomas fastbreak layup tied things up at 73. West Liberty got possession with five seconds left after a UC travel and advanced it to the front court, but was unable to get a shot off sending the game to overtime.
The extra frame was all Hilltoppers after a pair of early buckets by Charleston, the Black and Gold shut them out for the final three minutes scoring the last 11 points in the game. Sarda helped seal the deal with six free throws in the final two minutes and totaled eight points in the overtime period.
West Liberty shot 50% from the floor (29-for-58) and from beyond the arc (12-for-24). WLU continued its command of the three point line, outshooting UC 12-3 from deep.
Karly McCutcheon filled the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Grace Faulk added 11 points with a trio of triples. 85 of the 87 points scored for the Hilltoppers came from the starting five.
This is the fourth straight win for the Black and Gold, tying its longest win streak of the season which came at the start of MEC play.
West Liberty will be back in action on Wednesday taking on the defending national champions No. 5 ranked Glenville State at 5:30 pm in Glenville.