West Liberty edged in overtime
Hansen posts 30 points, 18 boards in postseason loss
EDINBORO, Pa. – West Liberty’s postseason run ended in overtime Saturday night as Johnson C. Smith edged the Hilltoppers 78-72 in an NCAA Division II Atlantic Region semifinal on the campus of Edinboro University.
The loss took a bit of the edge off a spectacular performance by West Liberty senior Tori Hansen. Playing in what turned out to be her final game in a Hilltopper uniform, the Edinboro native poured in a game-high 30 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds to keep West Liberty in the hunt until the final buzzer.
The No. 3-seeded Hilltoppers (25-7) led by as many as 14 points in the first half before taking a 40-32 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
The No. 2-seeded Golden Bulls (26-4) took advantage of the size differential in the paint to chip away at the deficit when play resumed and took their first lead, 51-49, on a LaQwesha Gamble 3-pointer with 9:39 left in regulation.
The lead swung back and forth the rest of the night before two Hansen free throws put West Liberty on top 65-63 with 42 seconds remaining.
Shakeena Cunningham muscled inside for the tying hoop with 23 seconds to go but the Hilltoppers had a chance to win in regulation. Mattison Chilton missed on a leaner as the clock ticked past the 3-second mark. Hansen grabbed the offensive rebound but her hurried follow attempt refused to drop at the horn.
The overtime period proved anticlimactic.
Tyra Breaux put Johnson C. Smith ahead to stay at 69-67 with a driving layup, which turned out to be the final field goal of the night for either team.
The Golden Bulls went 11-of-14 from the foul line in overtime to keep West Liberty at bay.
Laura Malernee – the NCAA’s career 3-point leader – backed Hansen with 18 points on six 3-point bombs while Jordan Stacey had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Breaux came off the bench to lead the North Carolina squad with 22 points while Gamble, a University of Kentucky transfer, added 17 points and 11 rebounds.