FINDLAY, Ohio — West Liberty senior Alex Falk and the No. 1-ranked Hilltoppers cruised to a 90-74 victory against No. 8 Findlay on Wednesday at Croy Gymnasium.
Falk poured in a career-high 37 points and West Liberty led by as many as 28 points down the stretch in the first top-10 showdown of the season.
The lead changed hands several times in the early going, but the Hilltoppers went ahead for good 15-14 on a pair of Falk free throws less than five minutes after the opening tip.
Findlay was still within range, trailing just 21-16 as the first half clock ticked past the seven-minute mark, when a 3-pointer by Falk at the 6:43 mark ignited a West Liberty surge.
Falk capped a 15-3 run with a running layup off a Cedric Harris steal as the Hilltoppers opened a 36-19 lead with 1:52 left in the opening half.
West Liberty took a 39-23 edge into the locker room at intermission and picked up right where it had left off when Falk’s 3-pointer pushed the count to 49-30 at 16:05 in the second half.
C.J. Hester’s drive with 8:37 remaining moved the Hilltoppers’ lead to 28 points as West Liberty held on for the win.
Falk finished with 37 points, five steals and played a key role in WLU’s high-pressure defense that forced the Oilers into 22 turnovers.
Hester backed Falk with a double-double – 16 points and 13 rebounds – while Tim Hausfeld added 10 points and Harris contributed a game-high nine assists to go along with eight points and four steals.
Brad Piehl had 15 points and Greg Kahlig added 14 points for Findlay in the losing effort.