West Liberty Athletics
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. — Laura Malernee became the leading 3-point shooter in NCAA Division II history Monday night as a short-handed West Liberty ground out a 61-43 victory against visiting Davis & Elkins.
Malernee, a 5-11 senior from Gahanna, Ohio, buried the 386th 3-point field goal of her career with 12:05 remaining in the second half. The bomb from the top of the key broke the previous NCAA Division II record of 385 career 3-pointers, set by Lorie Martinez of Texas A&M-Kingsville from 1999-2003.
“When someone does something that’s never been done before, that pretty much speaks for itself,” Hilltopper head coach Lynn Ullom said. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment for Laura and it reflects very well on our program and her teammates for setting the screens and making the passes which created the opportunities for Laura.”
With starting point guard Jenni Robbins in street clothes after being injured on Saturday, West Liberty (14-3, 9-2) had a hard time putting the pesky Senators (4-15, 2-11) away.
The Hilltoppers got off to a good start and seemed to have things well in hand with a 29-14 lead but failed to score over the final 5:04 of the opening half and led just 29-25 at intermission.
Davis & Elkins cut the lead to two points on several occasions during a sloppy second half and trailed just 40-38 with 8:30 remaining before West Liberty finally found the range.
The Senators had thrown a defensive blanket over Malernee on the perimeter but Kayla Ayers came off the bench to drain four 3-point field goals in the final 8 minutes as the Hilltoppers closed the game on a 21-5 run.
“Obviously, we missed Jenni tonight,” Ullom said. “Davis & Elkins is very well-coached and did a good job on Laura. We have enough people who can score that it’s just a matter of someone stepping up. We did struggle on the offensive end tonight but Kayla hit some big shots for us.”
Meghan Wiseman led West Liberty with 16 points while Ayers finished with 15 points – all on 3-pointers. Tori Hansen just missed a double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds but moved into the No. 2 spot on West Liberty’s career rebounding list with 770 rebounds.
Page Turner paced Davis & Elkins with 16 points while Julieanne Buckley added 10.
The Hilltoppers, who remained atop the West Virginia Conference standings with the win, will be back in action Thursday night when they host Bluefield State. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. at the ASRC.