UVa-Wise played a solid game Thursday. West Liberty’s game was more solid.
The Hilltoppers shot 54.4 percent (43 of 79) from the floor and hit 17 of 37 (45.9 percent) from behind the 3-point line on the way to a 120-85 Mountain East Conference men’s basketball win over Virginia-Wise.
Seven different Hilltoppers finished in double-figure scoring with James Griffin leading the way with 21 points. Evan French added 17, while Dan Monteroso and Dalton Bolon scored 16 each. Jordan Watson finished with 14, Tyler Primmer had 12 and Eric Meininger scored 11.
Head coach Ben Howlett knows the luxury of depth with his squad.
“I can put 11 or 12 guys in the game and I don’t think we drop down a notch. I think we actually get better,” said Howlett. “We emphasize getting out to a strong start. We tried to force the tempo and I think it wore on UVa-Wise a little. They got tired.”
Scoring impressed Howlett, but the coach was more pleased with his team’s assists and low turnover rate.
“That’s phenomenal. And it’s coming off the pass rather than the bounce. If we can have 28 assists and six turnovers every night, we’re a pretty good basketball team,” said Howlett.
UVa-Wise shot 44.4 percent (28 of 63) from the floor, led by Chance Sheffey’s 22 points. Taiwo Badmus had a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Yesid-Mosquera-Perea had 15.
“We tried to control the pace, but against them you’ve got to do it for 40 minutes because they just hit those flurries where they can hit three or four 3s in a minute or so, and that leads to those big runs and they’re able to get separation in a short period of time,” said UVa-Wise coach Blake Mellinger.
In the women’s game, it wasn’t a pretty win, but West Liberty did enough to come away with a 73-53 MEC win.
The Cavaliers (2-12, 1-8) kept things close through the first quarter and the first three minutes of the second.
Then, West Liberty exploded offensively.
Taking advantage of strong bench play, the Hilltoppers (6-9, 5-4) outscored Virginia-Wise 18-6 over the final 4:53 of the second quarter. West Liberty got 16 of the 18 points from its bench during the run.
The two teams played evenly throughout the second half, but West Liberty had already done its damage to come away with the win.
Marissa Brown led the Hilltoppers with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Audrey Tingle had 11 and McKenna Shives finished with 10.
Bianca Lockamy led Virginia-Wise with 11 points.