No. 12/11 Hilltoppers Battle Back To Fend Off Upset Bid by Glenville State

GLENVILLE, W.Va. - The No. 12/11 ranked West Liberty University men's basketball team scored 13 of the final 15 points to cap off a dominating second half surging past an upset-minded Glenville State, 82-70, Wednesday night inside the Waco Center.

Bryce Butler netted 17 of his game-high 27 points in the second half and was a rebound away from a double-double, while Ben Sarson was a point off a double-double charting nine points with a career-high 11 rebounds.

An energized Pioneer squad went back-and-forth with the Hilltoppers in front of their home crowd and jumped ahead by 15 (37-22) with just under five minutes left in the first half after a 15-1 run. West Liberty (20-3, 15-2) chipped away with a 13-4 spurt before a buzzer beater sent Glenville State (13-11, 9-8) to the half with a 43-35 lead.

The sides went shot-for-shot through the first seven minutes of the second half, then the Hilltoppers made their charge scoring 11 straight points to take the lead (61-59) just before the 10-minute mark, the first West Liberty lead since 11-8 with 15:27 left in the first half.

The game stayed within three points over the next four-plus minutes, then the 13-2 WLU run closed out the game elapsing the final 4:43.

Christian Montague made a career-most seven free throws in 10 attempts at the line finishing the game with 12 points. Montague and Steve Cannady tied for a game-high with four assists. Malik McKinney added 10 points for the Black and Gold.

For just the fourth time this season, West Liberty was outshot beyond the arc (6-to-8 in made threes), however WLU had a +10 (44-34) edge in the paint and doubled GSU's production at the free throw line (12-to-6).

The Hilltoppers had a +16-rebounding margin including a 20-5 advantage on the offensive glass leading to 20 second chance points. Butler had four offensive boards, while Sarson had three.

WLU forced 19 turnovers, 12 of which in the second half, posting a +9-turnover margin. Cannady led the team's nine steals with three of his own. The Black and Gold converted the 19 Pioneer miscues into 18 points.

The win was the 20th of the season for the Hilltoppers making it 18 straight full seasons with 20-plus wins dating to 2004-05. WLU went 18-5 in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season.

West Liberty will host Concord on Saturday inside the ASRC. Start time is scheduled for 4 pm. Senior Malik McKinney will be honored pregame for achieving 1,000 career points in the Black and Gold.

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