A second-half comeback
came up short for No. 1 West Liberty Monday night as Charleston
held on to hand the Hilltoppers their first loss of the season, 101-96,
at a jam-packed Eddie King Gym.
Charity certainly began at home for the Golden Eagles (12-2, 8-2),
who took advantage of a WVIAC season-high 40-of-55 showing from the foul
line to hand West Liberty (14-1, 8-1) just its second loss in the Black
and Gold's last 70 conference games.
The Hilltoppers trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half
and seemed dead in the water when Evan Faulkner hit the second of two
free throws for a 99-93 Charleston lead with just 19 seconds remaining.
But senior All-American Alex Falk answered with a quick 3-pointer
from the top of the key, cutting the gap to 99-96, and Faulkner was
fouled on the in-bounds pass to stop the clock with 8 seconds left.
Faulkner missed both free throws, giving West Liberty a chance to
tie the game with a 3-pointer, but UC fouled Kelvin Goodwin before he
could cross mid court.
After Goodwin missed the front end of the 1-and-1, UC's Robbie
Dreher won the rebounding battle and hit two more free throws to set the
C.J. Hester had a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds for
the Hilltoppers while Falk finished with 20 points, 5 assists and 3
steals. Cedric Harris added 15 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 4
steals while Chris Morrow had 15 points and 7 rebounds.
The foul line was a double-edged sword for WLU, which made just
13-of-24 free throws on the night and just 4-of-11 after intermission.
Dreher led a balanced attack for Charleston with 21 points while
Terrell Lipkins and Aleksander Kesic added 20 each. The Golden Eagle
trio was a combined 28-of-35 from the charity stripe for the game.
Faulkner and Xavier Humphrey rounded out UC's double-figure scorers with
15 and 11 points, respectively.
X West Liberty was whistled for 34 personal fouls and had 4
starters foul out. The Hilltoppers had lost a total of just 3 players to
fouls in their first 14 games
X Charleston's 55 free throws were the most by any WVIAC team in
the past 7 years. W.Va. State was 43-of-59 from the stripe in a 107-97
loss to Salem International on Feb. 9, 2006
X The Golden Eagles didn't make a single shot from the floor over
the final 4 ½ minutes but were able to close out the win by hitting
14-of-18 free throws down the stretch
X This was UC's first game against a No. 1-ranked team since a
105-92 upset of top-ranked Salem-Teikyo on Jan. 31, 2000 at the Eddie
X The win snapped a 10-game losing streak for Charleston against
West Liberty. The Hilltoppers are now 11-2 against the Golden Eagles
since Crutchfield took the reins prior to the 2004-05 season