West Liberty Women Drop 110 on Wheeling
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The surging West Liberty women's basketball team ran away to its fourth straight win here Saturday, shooting better than 60 percent from the floor in a 110-73 romp past Wheeling inside the ASRC.
Coach Kyle Cooper's Hilltoppers (13-5, 8-2) exploded for 32 points in the first quarter alone and never looked back in handing the Cardinals (3-11, 3-7) their sixth loss in the last seven outings.
"As a staff, we are just unbelievably proud of our team right now," Cooper said. "We're playing complementary basketball in the way we defend, the way we rebound, the way we share the basketball and the pace we play.
"The positive feedback our girls are getting now from being rewarded with success from play to play and game to game just serves to reinforce what we're teaching and makes us hungry for more."
Great defense led to good offense for West Liberty as they came out of the gates with all guns blazing. Three steals in the first three minutes fueled an opening blitz with a Bailee Smith steal and score producing the game's first double-digit lead, 13-2, at 7:02 of the first quarter.
The Hilltoppers never took their foot off the gas for the rest of the period. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Corinne Thomas pushed the margin to an eye-popping 32-10 in the final minute of the frame and the issue had been all but decided.
Wheeling never threatened as West Liberty continued to function like a well-oiled machine for all four quarters, leading by as many as 41 points in the waning minutes.
The 110 points are the most scored in regulation by a WLU women's basketball team in more than a decade, dating back to a 113-55 thumping of Fairmont State on Nov. 30, 2010.
All five Hilltopper starters came into the game averaging double-figures and all five starters hit double-figures again. Smith led the way with a game-high 25 points while Thomas knocked down a season-high six 3-pointers on her way to 19 points. Karly McCutcheon added 18 points while Arriana Manzay had 14 points and 6 rebounds on 5-for-6 shooting from the floor.
Reigning MEC Player of the Week Audrey Tingle, fresh off her nation's-best second triple-double of the season on Wednesday night at Alderson Broaddus, fell just short of duplicating that feat on Saturday with 14 points, 12 assists and 7 rebounds in yet another virtuoso performance.
West Liberty shot a blistering 60.3 percent (38-of-63) from the floor, went 9-for-22 (41 percent) from the 3-point arc and splashed home 25-of-31 (81 percent) from the foul line. The Hilltoppers outrebounded the Cardinals, 40-28, assisted on 22-of-38 made field goals and forced 21 turnovers.
Wheeling got 20 points from Lauren Calhoun and a dozen more from Shanley Woods.
"Have to throw a shout-out to our fans today, as well," Cooper said. "What a great atmosphere; what an enthusiastic crowd and what a great win. I hope the girls enjoy the heck out of this one. Days like today are why you sign up to be a Hilltopper!"
The West Liberty women hit the road to Davis & Elkins on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. from Elkins.