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West Liberty Rallies For 2017 MEC Tournament Title - Mar 6, 2017


POSTED BY:
IGOR OBRADOVIC
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David Dennis
The West Liberty and Fairmont State men's basketball teams are assured of playing in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament.
Neither was interested in resting comfortably despite knowing their seasons would continue after Sunday's Mountain East Conference Tournament championship game at the Charleston Civic Center.
Fairmont State (29-2) led 64-56 with 5:14 remaining, but West Liberty scored 11 of the game's final 12 points. The Hilltoppers worked the game to a 64-64 tie, broken with 1:03 left on a David Dennis (6'1''-G) free throw. After Matt Bingaya missed two free throws, David Dennis (6'1''-G) made two free throws with 10 seconds left for a three-point advantage.
'I heard the word resilience and that kind of describes the way we play,' West Liberty coach Jim Crutchfield said. 'I told them at halftime that we were going to win.'
A Jason Jolly 3-pointer was off the mark for Fairmont, but the No. 1 seed got the rebound and called timeout with 1.2 seconds left.
West Liberty (28-3) fouled prior to the inbound, putting D'Ondre Stockman (6'1''-G) at the line for two free throws. D'Ondre Stockman (6'1''-G) made the first and missed the second intentionally. Dennis got the rebound and flung the ball in the air as the horn sounded.
'West Liberty just made a few more plays,' said Fairmont coach Jerrod Calhoun , who is 3-12 against West Liberty and has not beaten the Hilltoppers outside of Fairmont. 'You don't sit around and feel sorry for yourself, but we also understand that.
That's what drove us all year to win the regular season title, and this series isn't over. You just have to keep plugging away.'
The Falcons forced West Liberty into a season-high 17 turnovers, but couldn't hold off the Hilltoppers - despite leading for the game's first 38:57. West Liberty had a combined 19 turnovers in their two regular season meetings.
'They have quick hands, put good pressure on,' Crutchfield said. 'I don't think there was a time when we could relax with the basketball, and that's unusual for us. But, with that pressure, the basket is exposed, their big guys are pulled away from the basket and driving lanes open.'
'Their intelligence factor is really high,' Calhoun said. 'They don't get too high or too low. Usually, we get teams down 10 or 11 we try to take it to 18 or 20. Unfortunately, we couldn't do that tonight.'
Dennis led West Liberty with 23 points, while adding nine rebounds. Hoehn, the tournament MVP, had 18 points and Dan Monteroso added 10 points. Zac Grossenbacher (6'8''-F-94) had 11 of West Liberty's 45 rebounds.
Bingaya's 18 led the way for Fairmont. Thomas Wimbush (6'7''-F) chipped in with 17, Vonte Montgomery (6'1''-G) had 10 and D'Ondre Stockman (6'1''-G) came off the bench to contribute 11.
West Liberty and Fairmont State await the NCAA Tournament selection show to discover their seeds for the Atlantic Region Tournament, which will be played at the home of the region's top-seeded team. The top eight teams in each region earn a spot in the 64-team Division II field.
The question remains who will host the regional. Top-ranked Fairmont, No. 2 Indiana University of Pennsylvania and No. 3 Kutztown lost - IUP and Kutztown lost in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament. West Liberty was No. 4.
'It would be good to play in a regional final … in Fairmont hopefully,' Calhoun said.
Crutchfield said, 'our facility is available. We have people on standby who have done it before. Nobody hosts better than West Liberty guys do.'
West Liberty seeks its eighth consecutive trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

MEC Tournament Final: West Liberty - Fairmont State 67-65
MEC Tournament Semifinals:
West Liberty - Wheeling Jesuit 105-95
Fairmont State - Shepherd 93-65

Courtesy of MountainEast   




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