By Kyle Lutz, Sports Editor
The West Liberty Hilltoppers finished their regular season last week with an overall record of 26-2 after defeating Davis & Elkins in the final regular season game by a score of 112-81.
Earlier in the week, the Hilltoppers experienced a surprising loss to neighboring rival Wheeling Jesuit 109-99.
West Liberty went into the game as the number one team in the nation and with a record 60 game WVIAC winning streak. The team also had a 23 game winning streak going for the season.
Jesuit, the nation’s second highest scoring team, was nearly flawless behind the three point arc shooting 61 percent and was the first team to score 100 points or more against the Hilltoppers this season.
“They say you can’t win them all,” Crutchfield said afterwards to hilltoppersports.com, “but all those wins don’t make a loss any easier to take. Our guys are hurting right now but we’ll bounce back. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played.”
BYU-Hawaii was the last team that scored more 100 points against the Hilltoppers, giving West Liberty their first loss of the season last year in the final four game.
In the first half, there were six ties and ten lead changes.
Then Wheeling Jesuit went on a 15-3 run to end the first half and go up by eight.
West Liberty did not score a point for four minutes to start the second half and found themselves in a 12 point hole.
But the nation’s highest scoring team began to come back when Tim Hausfeld and Chris Morrow made back to back three point shots.
With a little over halfway to go in the second half, the score was tied 65-65.
During the next five minutes, was all Wheeling Jesuit; making five 3-pointers to take their lead back up to 12, 90-78.
During the final minutes, the Hilltoppers got to as close as four points, but could not pull out the comeback.
Alex Falk led the Hilltoppers with 28 points, while Shawn Dyer had 20.
West Liberty was back in action on Saturday and were back to their winning ways with a 112-81 victory over Davis & Elkins College.
It was a good way for Jordan Fee and Michael Lopez to finish their final collegiate regular season.
The victory gave the Hilltoppers a record-tying 26 wins dating back to last year when West Liberty went 26-0.
“The season is going really well so far. We only had one returning starter, and it was a learning process during the first couple of games. But we are finally clicking and getting everything together,” CJ Hester said about the Hilltoppers’ season.
Hester finished the game with 23 points and broke the school’s freshman record for rebounds in a season by four with 238.
Falk finished with nine points, where he eclipsed 1,100 career points.
West Liberty will travel to Charleston to compete in and defend their title in the WVIAC tournament.
They are the number one seed and had a bye in the first round.
They played the winner of the West Virginia State and Shepherd game on Thursday, March 1.