West Liberty outscored Indiana (Pa.) 29-8 during the final 11 minutes to race away to a 86-63 victory and its third consecutive Atlantic Region championship.
The Hilltoppers (33-1) took control early, building a double-digit lead midway through the opening half before taking a 45-35 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
The Crimson Hawks (26-6), making their fifth consecutive regional appearance, came out firing at the start of the second half. A Mathis Keita free throw with 14:02 on the clock capped a 13-3 IUP run and forged the game’s first tie, at 48, since the opening three minutes.
West Liberty seniors Chris Morrow and Tim Hausfeld wrapped 3-pointers around a driving layup by the Hawks’ Anthony Wells and the teams traded baskets for the next few possessions before the Hilltoppers shifted into another gear.
Hausfeld’s third 3-pointer of the half – this one from nearly 30 feet – ignited a quick 10-0 burst that turned a 57-55 edge into a 67-55 lead with 8:50 left and IUP never recovered.
The lead swelled as high as 25 points down the stretch as West Liberty finished off its third double-figure win of the regional.
Alex Falk – the tournament’s leading scorer – led six double-figure scorers for the Hilltoppers with 20 points. Morrow added 18 points and 6 rebounds with Hausfeld and Shawn Dyer chipping in with a dozen points each. Cedric Harris had 11 points and C.J. Hester had 10 points and a team-high 7 rebounds.
Keita and Scooter Renkin led Indiana with 18 and 16 points, respectively, while Marcel Souberbielle added a dozen.
Falk, Morrow and Harris represented West Liberty on the All-Tournament Team. Morrow was named Most Outstanding Player.