College Men & Women Basketball

MEC Men’s & Women’s Preseason Polls

The Free Press WV

Women’s Basketball: Glenville State Tabbed As Preseason Favorite

Glenville State has been picked to win a third-straight Mountain East Conference title in women’s basketball in a vote conducted by the league’s coaches. The poll had five different teams receive first-place votes.

The Pioneers finished atop the poll with 110 points and six first-place votes. Glenville State, led by third-year head coach Kim Stephens, went 31-2 and became the first basketball program to go 22-0 in the MEC a season ago. The Pioneers lose two-time MEC Player of the Year Paris McLeod, but does return five players including Emily Stoller (10.1 ppg), Courtney Davis (9.0 ppg, 8.3 rbg) and Abby Stoller (4.9 ppg, 5.0 rbg).

Notre Dame was narrowly picked to finish second with 109 points and had one first-place vote. NDC returns a pair of all-conference honorees in their backcourt with first-team selection Seina Adachi (16.1 ppg) and second-team honoree Marisa Finazzo (11.3 ppg, 3.9 apg). Fairmont State, who also returns a strong backcourt in last year’s Freshman of the Year Sierra Kotchman (18.4 ppg) and Brooke Kurucz (14.0 ppg), was picked third with 98 points and three-first place votes.

All-American Marissa Brown and her 24 points and 11 rebounds will lead a West Liberty team that was picked to finish fourth in the poll with 92 points (one first-place vote). West Virginia State, picked to finish fifth with 79 points, welcomes back three starters from a team that went 13-9 in league play. Charleston, with

first-year head coach Becky Burke and four starters back, is picked sixth with 72 points, including one first-place vote.

Concord and its formidable frontcourt duo of Riley Fitzwater (13.9 ppg) and Madison May (11.8 rbg) was picked seventh with 62 points. Urbana was slotted eighth (48), followed by Wheeling Jesuit (43), Shepherd (40), West Virginia Wesleyan (20) and UVa-Wise (19).

The poll was released on Friday at the Mountain East Conference Media Day at The Courtyard by Marriott in Bridgeport, WV.

Men’s Basketball: West Liberty Selected As Preseason Favorite

West Liberty is the preseason favorite to win the 2019 Mountain East Conference men’s basketball championship after a vote conducted by the league’s coaches.

The Hilltoppers, the preseason No. 1 team in the country according to Street & Smith’s, had 116 points and six first-place votes, just narrowly ahead of Fairmont State with 114 points and five first-place votes. Charleston was in third in the poll with 102 points and had the remaining first place vote.

WLU is coming off a 26-4 record and MEC regular season championship a year ago. Ben Howlett begins his second season at the helm of the program. The Hilltoppers will be led by sophomore Dalton Bolon, a preseason All-America selection. Bolon averaged 16.7 points per game last season and hit 93 three-pointers last season. Fairmont State returns a pair of All-MEC honorees in Jason Jolly (15.4 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Vonte Montgomery (11.8 pts, 4.6 rbg). Lamont McManus helped get UC to the MEC Tournament final last season and is back to help lead the Golden Eagles.

Notre Dame was slotted fourth in the poll with 84 points, followed by Concord (75). The Falcons get a boost with the return Will Vorhees, who led the league in scoring with 26.8 points per game as a junior before missing last season with an injury. Concord’s Tommy Bolte took over the scoring title last year in the MEC and in all of NCAA Division II scoring after pouring in 31.8 points per game.

West Virginia State, led by first team All-MEC selection Pat Johnson-Agwu, is picked sixth with 72 points. Shepherd was seventh in the poll with 62 points, followed by Glenville State (47) and Wheeling Jesuit (43). The Pioneers and Cardinals will be led by first-year head coaches Justin Caldwell and John Peckinpaugh, respectively. West Virginia Wesleyan (30), UVa-Wise (26) and Urbana (21) rounded out the poll.

The poll was released on Friday at the Mountain East Conference Media Day at The Courtyard by Marriott in Bridgeport, WV.

GSC Softball Splits Double-Header on Senior Day with WV State

The Free Press WV

The GSC Lady Pioneer softball team split a double-header on Senior Day from the Sue Morris Sports Complex Saturday afternoon.

Glenville State took game one by a final of 3-2.

The Lady Pioneers tallied six hits while giving up four to the Yellow Jackets.

GSC took the early 1-0 lead in the first as Hannah Wright hit her fifth home run of the season. Later in the second the Lady Pioneers added to their lead this time as Cassidy Taylor went yard as they led 2-0.

West Virginia State added a run in the fourth inning off of two hits as they pulled within one, 2-1.

But GSC answered back in the bottom of the fourth when Cassidy Taylor hit singled to right field scoring pinch runner Makenna Nickell as they went up 3-2.

The Yellow Jackets added one run in the seventh as GSC held onto the 3-2 win.

Ally Brown picked up her 13th win on the mound as she went all seven innings allowing two runs on four hits and struck out six batters.

Cassidy Taylor went 2-for-2 with two RBI while Hannah Wright went 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Game two would belong to the Yellow Jackets as they defeated the Lady Pioneers 10-2 in six innings.

West Virginia State got off to a fast start as they scored three early runs in the first to take a 3-0 lead.

The Yellow Jackets added two more runs in the fourth off of two hits making it 5-0.

Glenville State got on the scoreboard in the fifth when Hannah Wright doubled to right center field scoring Catherine Pelfrey and Tori Ward as they pulled within three runs, 5-2.

However, the Yellow Jackets added five more runs in the sixth and then held GSC scoreless in the bottom of the inning as they picked up the 10-2 win over the Lady Pioneers.

Glenville State recorded seven hits and committed two costly errors while West Virginia State tallied 12 hits in the contest.

Senior Kahla Von Bergen pitched 3.1 innings allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out one batter.

Cassidy Taylor went 2-for-3 while Hannah Wright went 1-for-3 with the team’s lone RBI. Kim Ellis, Catherine Pelfrey, McKenzie Edmonds, and Hayley Olson all recoded a hit.

Glenville State (19-27, 7-19) will return to action tomorrow Sunday, April 22 when they host the University of Charleston in a double-header starting at 1:00 p.m.

Justin Caldwell Named New Head Men’s Basketball Coach

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Glenville State College’s Athletic Department is pleased to announce Justin Caldwell as new Head Men’s Basketball Coach. He becomes the 19th Head Coach for the Pioneer Program.

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to rejoin the Glenville State College family as the men’s head basketball coach. As a proud alum, Glenville State College played a major role in my development as a coach and leader. We have always had overwhelming support from the community and surrounding communities. I am grateful to have the opportunity to assist student-athletes in their development both in the classroom and on the court,“ said Caldwell. “Special thank you to Dr. Tracy Pellett and AD Rusty Vineyard in providing me with the opportunity. I want to also thank Ike Morris, as well as my wife Lydia, for their continued support! Now, let’s get back in the gym and get this process rolling. Go Pioneers!“

Caldwell, who was a standout player for the Pioneers, spent three seasons as an assistant coach for Glenville State following a stint playing professionally in Luxembourg. He spent three seasons of his college career at West Virginia Wesleyan before transferring to Glenville State for his senior year.

“Although the search was incredibly competitive with over 120 applicants, Coach Caldwell stood out from the rest of the field in terms of his recruiting experience, teaching ability, plans to develop a winning team, and energy to succeed! I congratulate him on his selection and know that he and his teams will work hard to represent the highest standard of both athletic and academic achievement. I also want to thank our Vice President for Student Life and Athletics, Mr. Rusty Vineyard, and the search committee in recruiting, interviewing, and finding a head coach that gives Glenville State the best opportunity to build a winning tradition for Men’s basketball,“ said GSC President Dr. Tracy Pellett.

Caldwell has spent the last two seasons (2016-17 and 2017-18) at California University of Pennsylvania. During his two seasons, the Vulcans went 21-35.

In 2015, Caldwell helped Glenville State capture the Mountain East Conference (MEC) Tournament Championship, which marked the first league championship for the program in over 40 years. GSC entered the league tournament as the fifth seed before upsetting the top-seeded Hilltoppers of West Liberty, who were number four in the country, in the semifinals and defeating second-seeded Fairmont State in the finals. Glenville State then made a consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament before finishing the year with a 22-11 overall record.

He also coached five All-MEC selections while serving as assistant coach with the Pioneers. Forward Lamar Mallory was a consensus all-region honoree as a senior during the 2013-14 season after averaging 18.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while leading the league with a .681 field-goal percentage. The following year, guard Donte Morales was an All-MEC First-Team selection after ranking fifth in the conference in scoring at 18.3 points per game behind a .473 three-point field-goal percentage, which was second-best in the league and third in school history. Morales was also tabbed the MEC Tournament MVP in that sesaon.

Caldwell played for both West Virginia Wesleyan and Glenville State. He was an All-West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) Second-Team selection during his junior and senior years after being named to the All-WVIAC Freshman Team during the 2007-08 campaign. Over his four years, he scored nearly 2,000 points and dished out over 250 assists while playing in 110 career games. He scored nearly 1,400 points in three seasons with the Bobcats and finished fourth in the WVIAC in scoring as a junior with 20.3 points per game. In his lone year with GSC, Caldwell ranked fifth in NCAA Division II with 23.7 points per game and finished third with a .914 free-throw percentage.

Following his collegiate career, Caldwell played for the BBC Bascharage Hedgehogs in Luxembourg for two seasons.

Caldwell coached various youth teams during the summer while in college and also overseas. After the conclusion of his playing career, he served as an assistant coach at Wyoming East High School in West Virginia for the 2012-13 season.

A native of West Virginia, Caldwell was a two-time, first-team all-state selection while starring at Wyoming East High School. He helped lead the Warriors to the Class AA state championship in his senior year 2007.

“We are thrilled to name Justin as our next coach. I never doubted for a moment that Glenville State would be able to attract a coach of his talent. He understands Glenville State College, student-athletes at this level, and collegiate basketball in the Mountain East Conference. I know our entire Glenville community will be delighted to welcome Justin and his family to Glenville State College,“ stated Vice President for Student Life and Athletics Rusty Vineyard.

Caldwell, an alumni of GSC, earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Glenville State in 2013.

GSC Softball Takes Two Games from Urban

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The Lady Pioneers picked up two wins Saturday afternoon over visiting Urbana University (3-25, 1-11).  Game one went to the Lady Pioneers by a final score of 2-1, as Ally Brown picked up her eighth win on the season.  Game two went to Glenville State by a final score of 7-3, as Tori Ward earned her fifth win on the season.
Scoring began in the top of the second inning as Urbana scored on an RBI single to right field. The score would remain 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning as Paranda Uber, Hannah Wright, and McKenzie Edmonds recorded three straight doubles.  Uber would go on to score on Wright’s double to tie it at one. GSC would take the lead, 2-1, as Tori Ward would hit an RBI single to right field to score Makenna Nickell from second base.
Brown would throw a one-run complete game allowing only seven hits.  GSC committed zero errors defensively.
Game two went to GSC by a final score of 7-3. Tori Ward would earn the win throwing 7 innings, giving up three runs, on seven hits.
Offensively, GSC put a four-spot on the board in the bottom of the first inning capped off with a two-run home run to center field by Tori Ward. Scoring would continue in the bottom of the fourth as Hayley Olson brought in Tori Ward and Hannah Wright on an RBI single to left field.
In the bottom of the fifth, Sierra Johnson laced a pinch hit double to left field. Catherine Pelfrey would re-enter the game and score on Ally Brown’s single to center field extending the GSC lead to 7-0. Urbana was able to put three runs on the board in the top of the seventh inning.
Glenville State improved their record to 13-15, 4-8 following the sweep over the Blue Knights. GSC is scheduled to return to action Monday, April 2 at 3:00 and 5:00 for a non-conference double header against Alderson Broaddus.

McLeod Named to D2CCA All-American Third Team

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Just one day after GSC’s senior guard Paris McLeod was named to the WBCA All-American Honorable Mention team she now has been named to the 2017-18 D2CCA All-American Third Team, released Tuesday afternoon.

This season she helped lead the Lady Pioneers to a 31-2 overall record while claiming the Mountain East Conference Regular and Tournament Championships as well as a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

“This is another great accomplishment for Paris, she deserves every bit of recognition she receives. She is a hall of fame type player for Glenville State College. The stats she was able to post this season in just 20 minutes per game are phenomenal,“ stated Lady Pioneer Head Coach Kim Stephens.

Paris, a native of Belleville, Michigan, led her team in scoring, averaging 21.1 points per contest while she was second in the country in steals with 118 on the season. For her efforts this season, McLeod was named the MEC Player of the Year for the second year in a row, while also being named the MEC Tournament MVP. This season she was named to the 2017-18 Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-Atlantic Region Women’s Basketball First Team on March 12 and the WBCA All-American Honorable Mention Team.

McLeod finishes sixth overall in GSC history in scoring with 1,623 points, second in steals with 316 in her career, and eighth in assists with 417.

“Paris’s career as a Pioneer has been nothing short of inspirational and her work ethic has been nothing short of motivational! A well-deserved honor, she should be proud,“ stated GSC’s Vice President for Student Life and Athletics Rusty Vineyard.

“We are very excited for the recognition Paris has received. Her work ethic, effort, and success is emblematic of the philosophy we attempt to instill in all athletes and students here at Glenville,“ added Glenville State College President Dr. Tracy Pellett.

Congratulations to Paris on another outstanding award.

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Lady Pioneers Fall in Second Round of NCAA Tournament to IUP

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The Glenville State Lady Pioneers magical season has come to an end in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday as they fell to the Crimson Hawks of IUP, 88-68.

Glenville State (31-2) shot 29 percent from the field and 29 percent from deep as they hit 10-of-34 three-pointers while IUP (28-3) shot great from the field going 35-of-65 for 53 percent and 31 percent from deep.

The Crimson Hawks jumped out to an early 5-0 lead over GSC but Emily Stoller would drill a three-pointer as she put the Lady Pioneers on the board trailing by two, 5-3.

IUP continued to control the pace as they took a three point lead at the first media timeout of the first quarter, 9-6, with 4:58 to play. Glenville State then went on a 6-2 run as they took their first lead of the game 12-11, as Abby Stoller laid it in, with 3:06 in the quarter.

IUP came right back and knotted it up at 12-12. The Crimson Hawks then jumped to a 16-13 lead but Julie Bishop drilled a three-pointer tying it up at 16-16, the second tie of the game, at the 1:48 minute mark. IUP then outscored GSC in the last 1:48, 5-2, as they held a five point lead after one, 23-18.

The Crimson Hawks started the second on a 6-2 run as they built a nine point lead at 29-20. IUP then went on another run this time outscoring GSC, 13-10, as they held a 14 point lead with 2:59 till halftime.

However GSC made a run of their own outscoring IUP, 9-2, as they cut the Crimson Hawks lead to seven points, 46-39.

Glenville State shot 32 percent from the field in the first half and 41 percent from deep while IUP shot 54 percent from the field and 27 percent from deep.

In the third quarter, Glenville State scored the first four points as the Lady Pioneers pulled within two points at 46-44. However IUP made some separation as they went on a 12-6 run as the Crimson Hawks took a 12 point lead at 58-46 with under five minutes to play in the third.

GSC attempted to cut into IUP’s lead but the Crimson Hawks ended up outscoring the Lady Pioneers 13-11 to end the third. The Crimson Hawks held a 14 point lead with one quarter remaining.

In the fourth, the Lady Pioneers tried to mount a comeback but IUP outscored GSC 17-11 in the quarter. Glenville State would fall in the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament 88-68. The loss also ends the Lady Pioneers 30 game win streak.

Glenville State forced IUP into 20 turnovers and scored 20 points off of them however the Lady Pioneers would turn it over 19 times. The Crimson Hawks had a big advantage on the inside as they outscored the Lady Pioneers 48 to 22 in the paint.

Paris McLeod scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Lady Pioneers while also pulling down six rebounds. Emily Stoller was the only other GSC player in double figures as she scored 19 points going 4-of-10 from deep and grabbing seven rebounds. Kristin DesRocher chipped in with nine points.

IUP was led by Megan Smith as she scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Carolyn Appleby scored 21 points while Lauren Wolosik chipped in with 11 points and six assists.

Glenville State Advances in NCAA Tournament with Victory Over West Chester

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The Glenville State Lady Pioneers, the No. 2 seed, won their 30th straight game on Friday afternoon as they defeated the No. 7 seed, Golden Rams of West Chester University, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 118-87.

Glenville State (31-1) had all 14 players score and drilled 19 three-pointers while West Chester (23-6) had five players score in double figures but turned it over 19 times.

Paris McLeod started the scoring for Glenville State as she scored the game’s first eight points as the Lady Pioneers held a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter. West Chester answered back as they went on 9-4 run as the Golden Rams pulled within five points at 14-9 with 6:08 to play.

GSC then went on to outscore West Chester, 17-9 to end the first quarter as the Lady Pioneers held a 12 point lead at the end of one, 33-21.

In the second quarter, the onslaught would continue as GSC stretched their lead to 21 points at the 7:02 minute mark, 44-23. Glenville State eventually went on to outscore West Chester 32-11 in the second as they took a commanding 33 point lead at halftime, 65-32.

The Lady Pioneers drilled 10 three-pointers in the first half and forced West Chester into 13 turnovers.

West Chester started the third on a 9-2 run but GSC’s Julie Bishop would end the run as she nailed a three-pointer making it 71-41 at the 6:55 minute mark. Again GSC went on to outscore the Golden Rams in the third, 32-29 as they took a 36 point lead into the fourth.

In the fourth, West Chester would outscore Glenville State, 26-21, in the quarter but the deficit was too large as the Lady Pioneers defeated the Golden Rams, 118-87.

The win was the first NCAA Tournament win for GSC since 2012-13, which came against Shaw University when Kim Stephens was an assistant at Glenville. The 118 points scored by GSC is also the most points West Chester has ever given up.

Glenville State shot 47 percent from the field and shot 39 percent from deep as they drilled 19 three-pointers while West Chester shot 40 percent from the floor and 24 percent from deep.

The Lady Pioneers won the rebounding battle by one, 48-47 but the Golden Rams outscored GSC in the paint 50-36.

Glenville State’s defense forced 19 turnovers and scored 20 points off of them.

Paris McLeod scored a game-high 27 points to lead GSC while dishing out seven assists and grabbing six rebounds. Kristin DesRocher scored 20 points, netting five three-pointers, while dishing out four assists. Bhrea Griffin chipped in with 18 points while Tayana Stewart and Emily Stoller each added 10 points apiece.

West Chester was led by Mia Hopkins as she posted a double-double scoring 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Camden Boehner chipped in with 14 points for WCU.

Glenville State (31-1) will now take on the No. 3 seed IUP Crimson Hawks tomorrow Saturday, March 10th. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m. from inside Barco-Stevens Hall on the campus of Virginia Union University.

Glenville State Holds Off Notre Dame To Win MEC Women’s Tournament Title

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Glenville State 81, Notre Dame 77

Earlier this week Glenville State’s Paris McLeod was named the Mountain East Conference’s Player of the Year.

Sunday afternoon she showed why as she capped off a fantastic week capturing Most Valuable Player honors for the Mountain East Conference Tournament after leading top-seeded and regular-season champion Glenville State to the tourney title with an 81-77 victory over second-seeded Notre Dame here at the Charleston Civic Center.

The win was the 29th in a row for the Pioneers who improved to 30-1 and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional which will begin play Friday at a site to be determined late Sunday evening.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, dropped to 23-9 with the loss. The Falcons were ranked 10th in the latest Atlantic Regional Rankings and will wait and see if they accomplished enough this week to earn an at-large bid to the national tournament.

McLeod, who averaged a tournament-high 28.0 points a contest in GSC’s three victories, came up huge again for her team with the game on the line. She scored all six points herself on a quick 6-2 spurt by the Pioneers during a 1:14 span to give Glenville a 78-73 lead with just 1:05 to play that the Falcons couldn’t overcome.

“Give credit to my teammates,” said McLeod, a senior guard who finished with a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five steals. “They’re always picking me up and encouraging me. Even when I miss a shot they’ll tell me ‘You got this P.‘ They just give me a lot of confidence and I play off of that.

“This championship feels great. We’ve made some early exits the last few years so to get it done in my senior year is special.”

The MEC Tournament title is the second for the Pioneers, who won the league’s inaugural tournament in 2014. It’s the first for second-year coach Kim Stephens, who won a West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship as a player at Glenville State.

“Notre Dame is a great team,” Stephens said. “We were up by 13 early and they never once quit. They have what it takes to get back in the game. I have a lot of respect for that team and program.

“Am I happy with the way we played today? No. Do I need to let it go and enjoy the day? Yes. It’s done. This is special. What this team has accomplished is special. They’re a truly great group to have and hopefully we’ve got a few more ball games this season.”

Glenville came out on fire Sunday afternoon. The Pioneers used a barrage of 3-point field goals midway through the first quarter and early in the second to open a 31-18 lead with 8:36 left in the first half.
However, Notre Dame, which opened the game going 1-of-11 from 3-point range in the first 15:10, regrouped and began to attack Glenville inside with success in the second quarter. The result was a 16-2 run by the Falcons which wiped out the Pioneers’ 13-point lead and gave Notre Dame a 34-33 advantage with 3:10 left in the quarter.

“We’re a transition team and we weren’t going to stop playing that way, but we were settling and only getting one shot,” Notre Dame senior forward Kim Cook, who recorded her 12th double-double of the year finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, said. “We had to play defense basically the whole first quarter and early in the second, but then we started attacking them and we’re a team which feeds off of each other. Once we got that run and got back in it we knew we had to keep the pressure on them.”

McLeod, however, helped her team end the Falcons’ rally and finish the half on an 8-2 run itself to take a 41-36 lead at the break. She scored six of the Pioneers’ final eight points of the second quarter.

“She’s the heart of their team,” Notre Dame first-year coach Lauren Macer said. “Most basketball players feed off of one another. She’s the calming sense for them. She got herself to the line 17 times today and for her to do that and allow them to reset and adjust was huge. She also finished some hard shots late in the game that we contested. She’s just the central part of their team.”

Glenville only shot 36.1 percent from the field (26-of-72) in the win, including a 9-of-41 showing from 3-point range. The Pioneers also got out-rebounded, 51-47, but were able to offset that by forcing 23 Notre Dame turnovers that they turned into 31 points.

“This title means absolutely everything to us,” GSC senior guard Kristin DesRocher, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds, said. “We’ve worked incredibly hard this year. Coach Kim has pushed us to our limits every practice and it’s made us better as individuals and as a team overall. When you have eight seniors this is a perfect way for our year to end. I’m proud to be on this team and really happy I chose Glenville.”

The only other Pioneer to finish in double figures in scoring Sunday was junior guard/forward Courtney Davis, who ended up with 11 points and six rebounds.

In addition to Cook’s double-double outing, the Falcons got 17 points, six rebounds and four assists from Seina Adachi, 13 points and seven boards from Katie Karalic, 11 points and nine rebounds from Madison Snider and 10 points and nine rebounds from Abi Oriti.

“My team definitely played with heart against a very good Glenville team,” Macer said. “Glenville is a powerhouse in our league. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us because they play different than anyone we’ve faced. I’m just proud of my team for stepping up.”

The MEC All-Tournament Team included Glenville State’s McLeod and Emily Stoller, Notre Dame’s Cook and Adachi, Fairmont State’s Kelli Jo Harrison and Sierra Kotchman, Shepherd’s Morgan Arden and Concord’s Riley Fitzwater. Notre Dame’s Cook was presented with the Commissioner’s Heart and Hustle Award, while Fairmont State’s Harrison was honored with the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award.

MEC All-Tournament Team

Morgan Arden, Shepherd

Riley Fitzwater, Concord

Sierra Kotchman, Fairmont State

Kelli Jo Harrison, Fairmont State

Kim Cook, Notre Dame

Seina Adachi, Notre Dame

Emily Stoller, Glenville State

MVP-Paris McLeod, Glenville State

Highest Scoring Average: Paris McLeod, Glenville State (28.0)

Sportsmanship Award: Kelli Jo Harrison, Fairmont State

Commissioner’s Heart & Hustle Award: Kim Cook, Notre Dame

Wheeling Jesuit Tops Charleston For MEC Tournament Title

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Wheeling Jesuit 80, Charleston 65

In its fifth season of existence, the Mountain East Conference has its fifth different men’s basketball tournament champion.

Wheeling Jesuit went on a 9-2 run over a three-minute span late in the second half to salt away an 80-65 victory over No. 5 Charleston in the tourney championship on Sunday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center, marking the third time the second seed has won the title.

Also, for the fifth consecutive year, the top seed failed to win the tournament. In fact, only twice has the top seed played in the championship game: West Liberty (2014) and Fairmont (2017).

Wheeling Jesuit (26-5), which was coming off three consecutive seasons of semifinal round elimination, earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament. The tournament selection show is set for 10:30 p.m. Sunday night during which the host and seeds will be announced. The top eight teams in the region will continue postseason play, with West Liberty expected to join Wheeling Jesuit in the Atlantic Region Tournament.

“I said all week that we have a good team,” Wheeling Jesuit coach Danny Sancomb said. “I’m so proud of the guys.”

The Golden Eagles (18-13), winners of the inaugural MEC Tournament in 2014, scored the first four points. When Brent Pegram hit the second of his record-setting five 3-pointers to give Wheeling Jesuit a 6-4 lead, the Cardinals didn’t trail again.

“It takes the right player to play in our program,” Sancomb said. “Guys like Brent had to come in at 6 in the morning to hear me yell and scream and running wind sprints.”

Pegram was 5-of-7 from 3-point range tying him with Notre Dame’s Tyree Gaiter for the most 3-pointers in the MEC title game. Gaiter had five against Concord in 2016.

Pegram, a freshman from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, joined teammates Haywood Highsmith and Preston Boswell as players who didn’t leave the court.

He averaged 22.1 minutes per game in the regular season. On Sunday, Pegram (29) and Highsmith (31) combined for 60 points as their team’s only double-figure scorers. Wheeling Jesuit played the tournament without first-team all-MEC player Pat Moseh, and guard Drake Goddard, who averaged 22.9 minutes per game, went down hard with 11:53 remaining, hitting his head on the floor.

Coach Sancomb was unsure of his condition, but Goddard was helped off the floor slowly by a trainer and teammate Ryan Cooper.

Pegram picked up the slack, hitting eight of his 10 total field goal attempts, five of his seven 3-point attempts and eight of his nine free throws.

“I think they were more physical today,” Charleston coach Dwaine Osborne said. “They were quicker to the ball and I thought they absolutely dominated the glass. How do you identify toughness?

“People think about it as physical toughness, but it’s more than that: there’s mental toughness and you look at your ability to execute, handle pressure, handle your emotions … those are toughness things … your ability to do what is asked of you and do it well. I don’t think we were very tough today, including myself.”

The Golden Eagles were led by Keir Anderson (18 points), Austin Howard (14), and Seth O’Neal (12).

Highsmith had his 28th double-double of the season, adding 11 rebounds to his game-high scoring total.

Wheeling Jesuit hit eight of its 17 3-point attempts in the first half, then was 2-of-7 in the second half. The Cardinals also took advantage of their free throw opportunities, hitting 18-of-22 for the game, including 16-of-19 in the critical second half. Charleston was 15-of-18 from the line in the second half.

The record-setting day featured 20 team or individual MEC Tournament championship game records broken or tied.

2018 MEC All-Tournament Team

Tommy Bolte, Concord

Pat Johnson-Agwu, West Virginia State

Dan Monteroso, West Liberty

Lamont McManus, Charleston

Keir Anderson, Charleston

Preston Boswell, Wheeling Jesuit

Brent Pegram, Wheeling Jesuit

MVP-Haywood Highsmith, Wheeling Jesuit

Highest Scoring Average: Tommy Bolte, Concord (39.5 ppg)

Sportsmanship Award: Taiwo Badmus, UVa-Wise

Commissioner’s Heart & Hustle Award: Tommy Bolte, Concord

MEC Men’s Basketball Semifinals Recap

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Charleston 95, West Liberty 93

Undaunted, unfazed, and untouched, the University of Charleston men’s basketball team turned away high-powered West Liberty for the second time in as many chances at the Mountain East Conference Tournament.

Senior Austin Howard hit a pair of free throws with 8.8 seconds left in overtime, completing a comeback from 23 points to shock the Hilltoppers 95-93 at the Charleston Civic Center on Friday night.

The Golden Eagles advance to Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. tournament championship game against the winner of Saturday’s late semifinal between Wheeling and Concord.

Charleston (18-12) has not beaten West Liberty in an MEC regular season since the league debuted in 2013, but the Eagles handed the Hilltoppers a 63-60 defeat in the tournament championship game that season.

That was the last time the teams met in the tourney.

“Maybe we should just tell them we’ll play tournament games all the time,” UC Coach Dwaine Osborne said. “We talked about that, being the last time we played West Liberty in the tournament. They were averaging 100 points per game and we beat them 63-60. Three or four weeks before that we lost 103-71. It just goes to show that if you have some resiliency and toughness, you can figure it out.”

West Liberty (26-2) hadn’t missed a beat under first-year coach Ben Howlett since he took over for Jim Crutchfield. Crutchfield took over the struggling program at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, leaving behind a legacy as the winningest coach in NCAA history with at least 10 years of service.

Still, his Hilltoppers had not won the MEC Tournament until last season, and they won’t this season.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Howlett said. “I haven’t been a part of too many losses … it’s 21 now, to be exact.”

Charleston’s motivation was that a loss meant no postseason beyond this week. West Liberty, the No. 2 team in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region and eighth in the NABC Top 25, will receive a bid in the regional.
West Liberty came out firing and pushed out to a 50-27 lead with 3:04 remaining in the first half.

Very little was going right for the Golden Eagles.

“It didn’t look very good,” Osborne said. “We weren’t able to get stops or finish possessions. When we did get stops, it seemed they got an offensive rebound. Seth (O’Neal) gave us a huge lift. We were down 24-12 and then get get another point (when video confirmed an O’Neal 3-pointer for the half’s last bucket). Then we had 20 minutes to erase an 11-point deficit.”

Howlett took the heat for the loss, lamenting some lineup changes late in the first half.

“I was thinking this game is going the way we want it to this point, so I thought I would put some guys in and get them some time,” Howlett said. “I got a little crazy there with substitutions late in the first half and that’s when they made their run.”

Charleston finally eliminated any deficit when a Kier Anderson – who had a game-high 30 points – scored to give UC a one-point lead with 5:09 remaining.

There were four more lead changes to come.

Following a Dan Monteroso free throw to give West Liberty an 86-83 at the 40-second mark. Eighteen seconds later, Anderson hit the fifth of his seven 3-point attempts to tie the score.

In overtime, Charleston freshman Lamont McManus missed a pair of free throws with 40 seconds on the clock. He was 8-of-11 from the floor and finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

“I just had the flow of the game,” McManus said. “I get in foul trouble a lot. They take a lot of charges on me and I had to be real decisive. If I don’t see help coming, I take it to the basket. If there’s help, that’s when I kick it out.”

Howard picked him up with two free throws sandwiching a West Liberty timeout with nine seconds left.

West Liberty senior Jordan Watson, a transfer from Lincoln University, misfired on a 3-pointer with three seconds left.

O’Neal had 15 points and seven assists to help the Golden Eagles, while Jordan Smith added 11.

Monteroso had 29 points to lead the way for West Liberty, and freshman Dalton Bolon finished with 23. Brandon Smith added 18 for the Hilltoppers.

Wheeling Jesuit 83, Concord 69

Second-seeded Wheeling Jesuit quickly erased a four-point halftime deficit by opening the final half with a 17-2 run in the first 4:14 and as a result cruised to an 83-69 victory over sixth-seeded Concord in the semifinals of the Mountain East Conference Tournament here Saturday evening at the Charleston Civic Center.

The win was the eighth in a row for the Cardinals who improved to 25-5 and earned the right to play for their first-ever MEC Tournament title. WJU was eliminated in the semifinals the last three seasons.

Wheeling will square off Sunday at 3:45 p.m. with fifth-seeded University of Charleston (18-12) which eliminated top-seeded West Liberty Saturday evening, 95-93, in overtime.

“It’s always nice to get to the championship,” veteran Wheeling Jesuit coach Danny Sancomb said. “We’ve lost some tough semifinal games in this tournament, so we’re happy to be here, but we want to finish the job.
Cardinal senior forward and MEC Player of the Year Haywood Highsmith, who posted his conference-leading 27th double-double performance of the season inSaturday’s win with 22 points and 13 rebounds, agrees.

“This chance means a lot to me,” Highsmith said. “A lot of seniors don’t get the opportunity to play for a title. I’ve never won one so it’s cool to be in the championship game, but the plan is to win it. We came down here to get three. We’ve gotten two so far. We’ve just got to get the next one. It would mean a lot to me as a senior to get a championship for my team.”

Trailing 41-37 at the break, WJU started the second half like a team on a mission. Back-to-back 3-point field goals by Brent Pegram and Drake Goddard started the game-changing 17-2 spurt which gave the Cardinals a 54-43 lead it never relinquished. Concord, which made just one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the second half, got within eight twice in the final 14 minutes but could never get any closer.

“They started to gain some confidence there,” Concord junior guard Tommy Bolte said. “We were sitting in our zone and they hit a couple of threes and it really got them going. We were never really able to bounce back from that. I think that run right there really decided the game.”

Concord, which shot close to 50 percent in the opening half, cooled off considerably in the final 20 minutes and connected on just 9-of-26 field goal attempts.

“It was difficult for us early because they came out extremely hot and made a lot of threes, including a couple that they banked in,” Sancomb said. “We trusted the process, though, and continued to play our game. I think our will on the glass was very important and our defense, which is who we are. In a league that is all about scoring we are all about playing great defense and in the second half we were able to really lock in, make things difficult for them and limit them to one shot.”

Wheeling overcame a subpar shooting performance itself (25-of-64, 39.1 percent) by dominating Concord on the glass. The Cardinals held a 49-29 edge on the backboards, including a 20-5 advantage on the offensive glass.

“I thought our team did a really good job of executing our game plan and what we had hoped to get done on the defensive end,” Concord coach Todd May said. “A team as good as Wheeling Jesuit is, to hold them to 39 percent shooting and 36 percent from three is good, but we just weren’t able to rebound at the level we needed to and all the credit goes to them on that. They’re extremely athletic, extremely big and they kind of punched us on that.

“I’m extremely proud of my team, though. No one expected us to be here, but they showed a lot of toughness and grit throughout the year.”

Preston Boswell led Wheeling Jesuit in scoring with 23 points and seven rebounds. The Cardinals also got 21 points and four assists from Pegram.

Bolte, who had an MEC Tournament game record 51 points Friday in the Mountain Lions’ quarterfinal round win over Fairmont State, finished with 28 points and seven assists Saturday evening to pace Concord. B.J. Hamlet added 12 points, all of which came in the game’s first 5:20.

Wheeling Jesuit won both of its regular season meetings with Charleston, but both were close contests. The Cardinals claimed a 90-87 victory in overtime in Charleston on January 04 and then won, 75-69, in Wheeling on February 08. That victory started WJU’s current eight-game winning streak.

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