VIENNA -In a men's basketball game Thursday at the Snyder Activity Center, Ohio Valley University had the nation's top-ranked Division II team in an ideal position.
The Fighting Scots trailed by just three points with just under six minutes remaining before intermission when West Liberty started to flex its muscle.
The Hilltoppers (6-0, 2-0 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) extended the lead to 13 points by the start of the second half then put on a clinic in the final 20 minutes while defeating OVU, 139-71.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Ohio Valley University's Jerry Macon Jr. grabs an offensive rebound over West Liberty's Alex Falk. West Liberty defeated the Fighting Scots 139-71 on Thursday.
Immediately out of the halftime break, West Liberty's starting five racked up 12 straight points in a span of 75 seconds before they took a permanent seat on the bench with 15:24 still left in regulation and the Hilltoppers comfortably in front, 83-53.
"We came out in the second half focused and with good intensity," West Liberty coach Jim Crutchfield said. "I had some guys with their heads down at halftime, but Ohio Valley University played a good game in the first half."
A total of seven West Liberty players scored in double figures, including Cedric Harris who led the way after tossing in all 22 of his points in the first half.
West Liberty 139, Ohio Valley 71
WEST LIBERTY (6-0, 2-0 WVIAC)
Chris Morrow 4-5 6-6 14, Tim Hausfeld 3-5 2-2 9, CJ Hester 4-9 0-3 9, Alex Falk 3-10 6-7 14, Cedric Harris 10-21 0-0 22, Jeff Yunetz 2-3 0-0 4, Nick Brown 5-7 4-11 17, Seger Bonifant 5-12 0-0 12, Shawn Dyer 8-12 0-1 18, Bubby Goodwin 4-9 1-1 10, Mike Lamberti 2-3 0-1 4, Keene Cockburn 3-9 0-0 6; TOTALS: 53-105 19-32 139; 3-point goals: Morrow 0-1, Hausfeld 1-2, Hester 1-2, Falk 2-3, Harris 2-3, Yunetz 0-1, Brown 3-3, Bonifant 2-5, Dyer 2-4, Goodwin 1-2, Lamberti 0-1, Cockburn 0-1
OHIO VALLEY (1-4, 0-1 WVIAC)
Jerry Macon Jr 5-14 3-7 13, Mustafa Helal 3-9 2-4 8, Povilas Dambrauskas 2-3 4-6 8, Ashton Brown 3-11 0-0 8, Neil Gingerich 4-8 1-4 10, Jon Sewell 1-2 0-0 2, Gregg Strasser 0-2 2-2 2, David Sinickas 3-6 0-0 8, Austin Parker 1-2 0-0 2, Gerald McDonald 0-0 0-0 0, James Allen 0-1 0-0 0, Evan Jamison 2-10 0-0 5, Shane Highman 1-3 1-2 3, Robert Smelser 1-2 0-0 2; TOTALS: 26-73 13-25 71; 3-point goals: Macon Jr 0-3, Brown 2-8, Gingerich 1-1, Sinickas 2-5, Allen 0-1, Jamison 1-3
Shooting: WL 53-105 (50.5%), OV 26-73 (35.6%); Rebounds: WL 65 (Hester 11, Goodwin 8), OV 51 (Dambrauskas, Gingerich 12); Assists: WL 26 (Goodwin 6, Harris 5), OV 15 (Dambrauskas 5); Steals: WL 20 (Harris 4, Dyer 3), OV 3 (3 with 1); Blocks: WL 4 (Brown, Cockburn 2), OV 13 (Dambrauskas 6, Jamison 2); Turnovers: WL 6, OV 27; Halftime score: WLU 61, Ohio Valley 48
Next game: West Virginia State at West Liberty, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; OVU at Seton Hill, 4 p.m. Saturday
"Cedric is hard to stop one-on-one," Crutchfield said. "He can pull up on a dime. We did isolate him a couple of times, and every time we did he put the ball in the basket."
Contributing off the West Liberty bench were Shawn Dyer with 18 points and Nick Brown with 17 points. During one 7 1/2-minute juncture, the Hilltoppers held OVU without a field goal and outscored the Fighting Scots, 29-3, to establish their largest lead of the game at 132-63.
"Our guys on the bench are good players," Crutchfield said. "It goes down the line and it kind of showed when they were in the game, especially the last 15 minutes. They don't look like backup players.
"Everybody wants to play, and unfortunately for them I'm not a Grinnell 12-man - I'm a seven or eight man rotation guy. We're going to have good players who may not see the court even though they are ready to see the court."
Scoring in double figures for OVU (1-4, 0-1) were Jerry Macon with 13 points and Neil Gingerich with 10 points. Gingerich and Povilas Dambrauskas each pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
As a team, the Fighting Scots finished with 13 blocked shots, including 10 in the first half. That type of defensive tenacity kept OVU within striking distance in the early going. Mustafa Helal scored two of his eight points to give the Fighting Scots their only lead of the game at 8-7.
Harris then converted a steal into a layup and back-to-back buckets from teammate Alex Falk, who finished with 14 points, shifted the momentum back in West Liberty's corner and left OVU trailing 14-8.
An issue with the clock then stopped play for nearly 10 minutes. When action resumed, Brown knocked down a 3-pointer.
The margin reached as many as 11 points before OVU whittled the gap to three at 39-36. The Fighting Scots had one possession to try and tie the score come up empty when Ashton Brown's 3-point attempt missed the mark on a 2-on-4 fast break situation with just under six minutes showing on the clock.
"In the first half, I wasn't happy - we were on a run and all of a sudden the game stops," Crutchfield said. "We're an up-tempo team. We play pressure, rotate guys in to keep them fresh and we try to wear people down."