West Virginia State snapped Mountain East Conference-leading No. 20 West Liberty's 11-game winning streak, holding off a late Hilltopper comeback to hang on for a 96-93 win Wednesday night in Institute.
Glen Abram led the Yellow Jackets (15-5 overall, 10-5 MEC) with 38 points, with Isaiah Noel scoring 22, Carmearl Thomas adding 15 points with 12 rebounds, and Treohn Watkins finishing with 13 points. Will Yoakum scored 29 points for West Liberty (17-4, 12-3), Dalton Bolon had 28 and Luke Dyer finished with 14.
It was a seesaw affair throughout the first half, with 16 lead changes and neither team stretching out more than a six-point lead. Abram propelled the Yellow Jackets to a 53-48 halftime lead, scoring 28 points, including 15 of WVSU's last 17 of the first half. State had a much better show of shooting, hitting 70 percent from the floor to West Liberty's 41 percent in the first half, but half of the Hilltoppers' shots came from outside, hitting nine 3-pointers in the first half and going 16 for 46 from outside for the game.
In the second half the lead changes became less frequent as each team went on longer scoring runs, until the Yellow Jackets went on a 12-1 run to go up 79-72 with 7:58 to go. State didn't shoot nearly as well as it did in the first half, but made up for it by making the most of frequent trips to the free-throw line, going 20 for 28 in the second half and offsetting most of the offense that the Hilltoppers were able to generate.
In the final seconds, Noel stole a pass that could have set up a go-ahead 3, then split a pair of free throws before a heave from Dyer at nearly half-court at the buzzer just missed sending the game to overtime.
West Virginia State takes the court on Saturday, traveling to Wheeling to face the Cardinals at 4 p.m.
Wheeling 71, Charleston 66: A Golden Eagle comeback fell short as UC fell to visiting Wheeling, missing a chance to pull into a share of first place in the MEC men's race.
Drew Rackley had 26 points and six assists for Charleston (17-4, 11-4) while Lamont McManus finished with 20 points. Jarett Haines led all scorers with 24 points for the Cardinals (11-8, 8-7), with Jordan Reid adding 15 points and seven rebounds and John Korte finishing with 10 points.
The Golden Eagles held with Wheeling until a 10-2 run gave the Cardinals a 31-21 lead with 3:33 to go in the first half, a lead that UC was only able to whittle down to 34-27 at the break.
The Golden Eagles mounted a comeback in the second half, going on a 17-6 stretch to put them back in the lead, 61-60, with 5:25 to go. The lead went back and forth until a 3-pointer from Rackley tied the game with 1:18 to go. Korte answered with his own 3, and Charleston missed two 3s in the final 40 seconds as Wheeling prevailed.
Charleston next faces West Liberty at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Charleston 85, Wheeling 67: The University of Charleston women’s basketball team recorded 11 steals and seven blocks as the Golden Eagles rolled to a Mountain East Conference win over Wheeling Wednesday night in Charleston.
Anna Hayton had 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks while Erykah Russell scored 16 with nine rebounds for the Golden Eagles. Brooklyn Pannell added 15 points and Megan Haines finished with 11.
Charleston (17-4, 12-3 MEC) also took advantage of foul trouble on the part of the Cardinals, going 26 for 37 from the free-throw line.
Lilly Ritz led all players with 33 points and 21 rebounds for Wheeling (8-13, 7-8), but Khira Burton, with 11 points, was the only other player on the Cardinals to record double-figures in any category.
Wheeling missed seven straight shots late in the first quarter, which allowed UC to stretch its lead to 22-10 after 10 minutes. The Cardinals returned the favor, opening the second quarter on a 10-2 run that saw the Golden Eagles go 1 for 8 in the next 6:11, but they slowly stretched their lead back up to 38-29 at the half.
Wheeling then went the first three minutes of the second half without a shot attempt, turning the ball over three times in the process, and Charleston went on an 11-1 run to push its advantage to 19 points before the Cardinals got some offensive traction, but the Golden Eagle advantage was still in double-figures at the end of the third quarter, 60-47.
From there UC took care of business, shooting 8 for 12 in the fourth quarter and recording five of its 11 steals in the final 10 minutes to lock up the win.
The Golden Eagles will hit the road for their next three contests, beginning with a 1:35 p.m. scheduled tipoff Sunday at West Liberty.
West Liberty 74, West Virginia State 68: Fifteen 3-pointers from West Liberty overwhelmed West Virginia State, which was unable to mount a fourth-quarter comeback in Institute.
Chloe Cheresne led all scorers with 17 points for the Yellow Jackets (8-13, 6-9 MEC), adding seven rebounds, while Charity Shears had 12 points and three steals and Sierra Womack finished with 10 points. WVSU took just five 3-pointers, hitting none.
Taylor Johnson had 16 points and three steals for the Hilltoppers (9-12, 5-10), with Morgan Brunner scoring 12 points with three steals and Olivia Belknap and Corinne Thomas each had 11 points.
The stretches in which West Liberty had trouble from beyond the arc, not surprisingly, were the stretches in which State was able to gain the advantage. In the first quarter, the Hilltoppers went 1 for 10 on 3s, while the Yellow Jackets opened on a 7-0 run and held a 13-9 lead at the end of the period.
West Liberty then hit its first five shots in the second quarter — including four 3s — to take the lead and stretched it out to 35-28 at halftime.
WVSU shot the lights out in the third quarter, going 11 for 13 from the floor, but while the Hilltoppers shot a relatively paltry 9 for 18, seven of those baskets were from 3-point range and they managed to slightly increase their advantage to 60-52 with 10 minutes to go.
West Liberty then went cold, shooting just 4 for 16 in the fourth quarter and not hitting a field goal in the final three minutes, but the Yellow Jackets were equally cold, making just one basket. The Hilltoppers hit four free throws in the final 15 seconds to ice the game.
West Virginia State looks to regroup when the Jackets travel to Wheeling to face the Cardinals on Saturday, with tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m.