CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- West Virginia Wesleyan earned its first WVIAC tournament championship with a 97-76 victory against No. 3 Glenville State.

The Bobcats (24-6) earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. It marks the first time in school history that the program has advanced past the conference tournament in postseason play.  

West Virginia Wesleyan led virtually the entire game, with the score being tied only once, coming with 17:31 to play in the first half at 9-9.

The Bobcats raced out to an 18-point advantage with 8:30 to play in the first half. Jamie Kaufman’s layup gave the designated home team a 38-20 lead, its biggest of the stanza. West Virginia Wesleyan maintained a double-digit lead for much of the rest of the half until Jelena Elez buried a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to nine. The Bobcats took a 58-49 lead into the break.

In the first half, West Virginia Wesleyan made 20 shots and drained 16-of-18 free throws.

In the second period, GSC sliced the lead to five just 4:31 after the break on a layup by Elez. With the score at 62-57 in favor of the Bobcats, the No. 1 squad in the tournament went on a 16-2 run to essentially put the game out of reach. The lead grew to 22 on Lydia Bridenbaugh’s 3-pointer on the win with 1:45 to play.

For the contest, Bridenbaugh poured in a game-high 31 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Brittany Maxey narrowly missed a double-double with 29 points and nine boards. Kaufman garnered 23 points and 15 rebounds while Daria Abros’kina snared 14 rebounds. Abros’kina had six assists while Danae Hill registered a game-high seven assists. Bridenbaugh had a game-high four steals.

Elez recorded a team-high 19 points in the loss for the Pioneers (23-7). Tenisha Wilson netted 12 points to go along with five assists and six rebounds. Mishae Miles had a huge game with 11 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks. Ginny Petties, Wilson and Danielle Woodmore each accounted for three steals.

For the game, WVWC shot 47.3 percent from the floor while the Pioneers hit 31.6 percent. The Bobcats outrebounded GSC 58-51.