Fairmont State took home its first conference tournament title since 1984 with a 102-99 win over West Liberty on Sunday afternoon at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
The Falcons (14-4) avenged two previous losses to West Liberty, falling 96-84 on Jan. 13, and then dropping a 30-point decision just two weeks ago 126-96. Fairmont State, ranked sixth in the most recent Atlantic Region rankings, also assured itself of a spot in the tournament with the automatic bid.
Meanwhile, West Liberty (15-4) will have its NCAA Tournament fate decided late Sunday during the NCAA’s selection show.
“It was a crazy game,” Fairmont State head coach Tim Koenig said. “Those guys fight to the last second. Nothing is really over with them. They really beat us up good this year in the regular season. I’m so proud of the guys staying with it and staying level-headed throughout all of the runs. It was a huge win.”
Dale Bonner scored a game-high 34 points. He played all 40 minutes to help lead the Falcons. Isaiah Sanders, who was part of Notre Dame’s tournament championship team two seasons ago under Koenig, was named the Tournament MVP after scoring 25 points against the Hilltopppers.
“This is real special,” Sanders said. “It’s a feeling like no other. Everyone bought in at the right time. We had some games this season where we struggled a little bit, but we regrouped, came together as one and the results showed today.”
Fairmont State had two other players in double-figure scoring. Cole VonHandorf scored 17 points and Seth Younkin scored 10.
The Falcons shot 54% from the field (32-of-59), and 61% from 3-point range (11 of 18), in the win. West Liberty was also 54% from the field (36 of 67), and was 43% from beyond the 3-point arc (15 of 35).
Pat Robinson had a team-best 27 points for West Liberty, while Luke Dyer had a career-high 24. Bryce Butler had 16 points and seven rebounds.