West Liberty blasts East Stroudsburg
No. 3 Hilltoppers drain 15 3-pointers, lead wire-to-wire in rout
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. -- No. 3 West Liberty had its scoring machine firing on all cylinders Saturday night, which proved to be very bad news for East Stroudsburg in an NCAA Division II Atlantic Region quarterfinal at the ASRC.
The Hilltoppers (30-2) drained 15 3-pointers and led wire-to-wire in rolling to a 119-82 victory against the Warriors (20-12).
The Black and Gold's winning margin was surprising as the two teams had battled on fairly even terms in a mutual season opener before WLU pulled out a 96-92 win but Hilltopper head coach Jim Crutchfield had a pretty succinct explanation.
“We're a much better basketball team now than we were in November,” Crutchfield said. “I thought we played very well, especially in the first half when our defense helped us generate some quick scores. We played well on offense the entire game. When you see a team with a lot of assists (26) and very few turnovers (8), they're playing good basketball.”
West Liberty quickly opened up a 12-2 lead on a Cedric Harris jumper as the first-half clock ticked past the 15-minute mark and pushed the count to 26-12 on a deep Tim Hausfeld 3-pointer at 10:05.
“We did play better,” Hausfeld said. “I thought we moved the ball really well and once they [East Stroudsburg] got tired, we were trading easy shots for easier shots. Everybody shot the ball well.”
The margin never dropped below double-digits the rest of the night as the Hilltoppers opened up a whopping 64-36 halftime lead. Head coach Jim Crutchfield began pulling his starters at the 11-minute mark of the second half as the lead grew as high as 39 points down the stretch.
Harris led eight double-figure scorers for the winners with 21 points and 9 assists -- both game-highs. One of the conference's premier assist men, Harris complemented his passing game on Saturday by draining 3-of-4 attempts from behind the 3-point arc.
“When you're surrounded by great shooters, it makes everything easier,” Harris said. “I just do whatever the team needs me to do. All I care about is winning.”
Hausfeld hit 5-of-7 3-point shots to add 15 points while Alex Falk knocked down 14 and fellow starters C.J. Hester and Chris Morrow chimed in with a dozen each. Keene Cockburn tossed in 13 off the bench while Shawn Dyer (12) and Mike Lopez (11) also hit double-figures in a reserve role.
Eric Bryan led five double-figure scorers for East Stroudsburg with 15 points.