SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio - The West Liberty University women's basketball team earned a convincing win, 78-61, on the road Wednesday evening at Notre Dame College.
Arriana Manzay filled the stat sheet with a 22-point, 13-rebound double-double with three blocks, three assists, and a steal. Manzay shot 8-for-12 from the field and went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Sonia Sarda charted 18 points with a pair of triples, eight rebounds, three assists, and four steals.
West Liberty (16-11, 14-7) scored seven straight points early in the first quarter to go up 10-4 and never looked back holding the lead the rest of the way. With the win, WLU clinched a top-five seed at the upcoming Mountain East Conference Tournament and still has the opportunity to battle for fourth this weekend.
The Hilltoppers added another 7-0 run late in the second quarter to stretch their lead to double digits (27-15) with 2:30 to go in the first half, then took a 29-19 advantage into the break.
Grace Faulk and Karly McCutcheon bookended the third quarter with three pointers, as WLU stayed in control throughout. McCutcheon's triple just beat the third quarter horn and gave the Black and Gold a 13-point lead heading to the final 10 minutes. The 'Topper defense never allowed the Falcons to score more than five points in a row in the second half and that stretch came in the final 30 seconds of the game.
West Liberty kept rolling in the fourth quarter featuring a 9-0 run to go up by 19 at the 4:22 mark, then stretched the lead to a game-high 21 points (73-52) with under two minutes to play.
The Hilltoppers went 22-for-25 (88%) from the free throw line, the most free throws in an MEC game and second most overall this season. In the second half, WLU went 16-for-17 at the stripe.
Corinne Thomas scored seven first quarter points to help the Hilltoppers get ahead and finished with 13 on the night including a 6-for-7 effort at the free throw line. McCutcheon ended with 11 points and a game-high four assists.
WLU assisted on 17 of its 25 made shots and held Notre Dame to just three. Seven Hilltoppers recorded assists. McCutcheon's four led the way, while Sarda, Manzay, and Thomas all dished out three. The 'Toppers forced 11 turnovers and swiped six steals holding a narrow edge (14-12) in points off turnovers.
After a cold shooting start, West Liberty shot 51.9% from the floor and 41.7% from beyond the arc in the second half. The Hilltoppers racked up eight of their 10 fast break points in the final 20 minutes and only allowed three the whole game.
West Liberty will host Wheeling on Saturday at 2 pm for its regular season finale. The Hilltoppers will also celebrate Senior Day and honor 1,000-point scorers Karly McCutcheon and Arriana Manzay pregame.