Women’s Basketball continues to rise in MEC

The West Liberty University Women’s basketball team continues to turn heads throughout the Mountain East Conference (MEC), as Head Coach Kyle Cooper and Associate Head Coach Cassie Seth’s team are continuing to find ways to win critical conference match-ups in the final stretch of their regular season. To recap, the youthful Lady Hilltoppers began their season with a record of 3-2 in their first five games, in which the team used those games to find their footing and build team chemistry for the matchups to come. Eventually the chemistry came, and the Lady Toppers began to mesh, with the biggest sign of improvement coming from the phenomenal team efforts against the University of Charleston on Dec. 8, 2021.

Coming into the matchup, West Liberty knew the task that was ahead of them when facing Charleston, as the Golden Eagles had represented the MEC in the Elite Eight in last year’s NCAA Division II Tournament. Likewise, with the efforts of playmakers such as Dakota Reeves and Markyia McCormick, West Liberty knew they had a challenge ahead of them as they laid host for the conference contest. However, it ultimately was the Lady Hilltopper playmakers who rose to the occasion, as seasoned veteran Audrey Tingle dropped season highs in points (28), minutes (43), field goals made (9) and free throws attempted (11). Right alongside her was Corrine Thomas, the long range sharpshooter who contributed an additional 15 points. Although WLU only shot 35% from the floor, the 52% clip from the three point arc proved to be the difference. Along with stellar defensive efforts, the Hilltoppers earned every bit of a 78-74 victory in overtime to move to 6-2 on the season.

The Charleston victory was a catalyst of confidence for the progression of the season. The Lady Hilltoppers have gone on to win eight of their last 11 games since that matchup. Major games throughout that stretch have included wins against Malone University, Fairmont State University and arch-rival Wheeling University.

The victory against Malone University served as the Hilltoppers’ signature out of conference win before a 16 straight MEC opponent tilt began as phenomenal efforts from standout forward Arriana Manzay led the way for the black and gold. While shooting 10-13, Manzay put up 21 points while snagging 13 rebounds. Manzay’s efforts against Malone, along with a school record breaking and perfect 11-11 shooting performance against Ohio Dominican University, earned herself a MEC Player of the Week accolade.

Reigning back–to-back MEC Player of the Week honoree Audrey Tingle has been performing on a completely different level against her competition, potentially pushing her in the running for MEC Player of the Year. Tingle has experienced the best accolades this season compared to any other year in her career, as she currently leads all Division II women in triple-doubles, double-doubles, assists and ranks seventh in the nation in rebounds despite her 5’6 frame. Her 22 point, 14 rebound double-double against Fairmont State University, along with her near triple-double against Wheeling University, showcases her consistent plays on a nightly basis.

Anybody following the team and knowing about how Cooper and Seth’s team have operated over the years, would understand that they are focused on selfless, team oriented basketball performances. Currently sitting at 14-5 on the season, the idea of being a family oriented team remains at the forefront of priorities, as the remaining nine games of the regular season will put it all to the test.