CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Liberty downed Fairmont State, 92-78, to claim the WVIAC Tournament Championship on Saturday afternoon in Charleston.
West Liberty improves to 30-1 and will be the favorite to host the Athletic Region Tournament. FSU falls to 22-8 and will await the announcement of the Atlantic Region committee for an at-large bid.
FSU was led by 17 points apiece from Malik Stith and Isaac Thornton. Brendan Cooper added 13 points and seven boards for the Falcons. Isaiah Hill also recorded seven rebounds for FSU. Stith, Thornton and Cooper were all named to the All-Tournament Team.
West Liberty was led by a game-high 27 points by Alex Falk. Falk also had a team-high four assists and knocked down 13-of-15 free throw attempts. CJ Hester recorded a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Bubby Goodwin (18) and Shawn Dyer (12) also reached double figures for the 'Toppers.
West Liberty shot 55 percent from the field compared to just 39 percent for the Falcons. West Liberty also held a 40-32 advantage on the glass, although the Falcons pulled down 16 offensive rebounds. West Liberty scored 46 points in the paint and 13 on the fast break.
With the score dead-locked at 31-31 with 5:13 remaining in the half, West Liberty went on an 11-2 run to grab its largest lead of the half, 42-33, with 2:54 to go. FSU ended the half with seven straight points to cut the WLU lead to just two, 42-40, at the break. A huge three-pointer by Thornton key the stretch for the Falcons. The opening half featured seven lead changes and six ties.
Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field in the opening half. The Hilltoppers held a slim 17-16 advantage on the glass. Cooper (13) and Stith (11) paced the Falcons in the opening 20 minutes. Goodwin (12) and Hester (11) led the Hilltoppers in the opening half.
Hill scored two quick buckets to help the Falcons grabs a two-point lead with 19:14 remaining in the game. With FSU holding a 48-46 lead at the 16:28 mark, the Hilltoppers went on a 26-6 run to grab an 18 point advantage (72-54) with 7:17 remaining. WLU grabbed its largest lead at 20 points with six minutes to play but Fairmont State went on a 16-5 run to cut the lead back to single digits (81-72) with just under three minutes to play. However, West Liberty hit key free throws to close out the 92-78 victory to win the 2013 WVIAC Tournament Championship.
After attempting just one free throw in the first half, West Liberty went 29-of-32 in the second half. Fairmont State was 20-of-23 from the free throw line for the game.
The Falcons will now await the decision by the NCAA selection committee on the naming of the at-large bids in the Atlantic Region Tournament. The selection show is on Sunday, March 10.