No. 8 West Liberty Men Blast Bobcats in '3-Party'
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The No. 8-ranked West Liberty men's basketball team held a "3-Party" inside the ASRC on Sunday, draining a season-high 21 3-point field goals in a 109-65 blowout of West Virginia Wesleyan.
It was the 14th win in the last 15 outings for Coach Ben Howlett's Hilltoppers (18-2, 12-2), who now find themselves sitting all alone atop the Mountain East Conference standings after completing a season sweep of the visiting Bobcats (2-18, 1-13).
"I liked the way we played in the second half a lot," Howlett said. "We shared the ball well, had good spacing and created some very good looks. Everybody on this team has the ability to make open shots so when we play like that, I think it makes us a fun team to watch and a difficult team to beat."
The final box score illustrates Howlett's point as all 11 West Liberty players in uniform attempted a 3-point shot and nine of them got at least one to go down.
Sophomore transfer Garrett Denbow and second-year freshman Ben Sarson led five double-figure scorers for the Black and Gold with 17 points each. Denbow was a deadly 5-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc while Sarson knocked down a career-high 5-of-5.
"We talk about it in practice all the time," Sarson said. "We believe the only team that can beat us is ourselves when we get away from doing the things that make us successful. My teammates did a great job sharing the basketball tonight so I had great looks."
The outcome of the game was never really in doubt. West Liberty cruised into halftime with a 45-27 lead, opened the second half with an 18-3 burst and led by as many as 44 points down the stretch.
Howlett substituted freely throughout with no Hilltopper player seeing more than 23 minutes of court time. Pat Robinson III had 16 points and 7 rebounds while Bryce Butler added a dozen points and a game-high 8 rebounds. Marlon Moore Jr. had 11 points in 14 minutes off the bench and Zach Rasile nailed a trio of 3-pointers for 9 points while dishing out a game- and career-high 7 assists.
Jayden Hibbitt and Braeden McGrew were the only double-figure scorers for the Bobcats with 21 and 20 points, respectively.
West Liberty faces one of its toughest tests of the season on Wednesday when a red-hot West Virginia State team dribbles into the ASRC for a make-up game with a special 6 p.m. start time.
The Hilltoppers rallied past the Yellow Jackets, 86-84, in December but WVSU hasn't lost since. That 10-game winning streak includes double-digit victories against former MEC front-runner Charleston along with nationally-ranked Embry-Riddle (Fla.) and Fairmont State.
"We definitely have our work cut out for us on Wednesday," Howlett said. "State's probably the hottest team in the country right now and they're playing extremely well. We will have to execute and compete at a very high level to come out of here with a win."