WLU Women’s Basketball splits in Atlantic Region Crossover

The best times just keep getting better on the Hilltop, as the number five ranked team in the Mountain East Conference (MEC), West Liberty University WLU) Women’s basketball, officially began their season over the weekend with two games — one on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 and another on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. The team had traveled to nearby Erie, Pa, where they were tasked with back-to-back contests against perennial contender California University of Pennsylvania (CUP) on Nov. 13, and Mercyhurst University (MU) on Nov. 14, also known as the alma mater of Associate Head Coach Cassie Seth.

The Lady Hilltoppers lost against CUP on Nov. 13 with a final score of 76 to 60. However, the team made a comeback the very next day earning a win against MU with a final score of 84 to 75.

Opening night (on Nov. 13) contest against CUP went quite well for the Hilltoppers for the most part, despite Cal’s ability to pull away at the end. West Liberty as a team performed well, as the box score was highlighted by an 18 point performance by Corrine Thomas and an absolutely dominant game by Arriana Manzay. Although it was a difficult pill to swallow, what was most impressive following the 76-60 loss was how West Liberty bounced back against MU the very next day on Nov. 14. West Liberty was successfully able to capture their first win of the season against Mercyhurst by the final score of 84-75, and while it was certainly a team effort until the very end, the biggest lifts of the game were from the scoring of Corrine Thomas and Bailee Smith. Sophomore Thomas shot 6-10 from the field, which included 4-8 from beyond the arc to secure a 20 point performance, while true freshman Smith shot 6-11 from the field and 2-3 from three point range to blossom for the first time this season for a 18 point performance. Veteran Audrey Tingle also impressed, as she posted a 12-6-13 point-assist-rebound statline.

This West Liberty team in particular has a certain edge to them compared to teams in years past, and can probably be explained by the youth the team possesses, along with Head Coach Kyle Cooper’s desire and motivation to extract the best version of his team at all times. While West Liberty is anchored by long time veterans in graduate student Audrey Tingle, graduate transfer Molly Bauer, and Junior Arriana Manzaym the team is otherwise considered incredibly young in the grand scheme of it all. West Liberty’s team collectively features eight underclassmen, which is even more eye popping considering the team roster is eleven players. Nonetheless, what is fascinating to watch about this team through two games is not only the veteran leadership shown on the court, but also the way in which many underclassmen are already performing like veterans.

West Liberty’s starting five consists of: guard Audrey Tingle, guard Corrine Thomas, guard Bailee Smith, guard Karly McCutcheon, and forward Arriana Manzay. From there, those who are receiving heavy rotational play and impacting the game tremendously are: guard Anna Lucarelli, guard Grace Faulk, forward Molly Bauer, guard Jenna Riccardo, guard Paige Julian, and guard Danielle Rosso.

Now sitting at an even 1-1 on the season, West Liberty will travel to Clarion, Pennsylvania to take on Clarion University. As for Clarion, the team has had a difficult time getting traction on the season, as they are still looking for their first win. Their losses include defeats against two Mountain East Conference opponents in Fairmont State University (92-68), and Concord University (72-70). From there, West Liberty will begin conference play in their home opener against Alderson Broaddus University on Nov. 20. For more information about the WLU’s women’s basketball, please visit hilltoppersports.com/sports/womens-basketball/schedule.