Toppers sweep regular season series against Wesleyan Bobcats

By Josh Smith, Contributing Writer

Tonight, on a chilly Thursday night two days after Valentine’s Day, the WLU men’s basketball team hosted the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats in their first MEC matchup of the week. Earlier in the season, the Toppers prevailed with a victory over the Bobcats in Buckhannon, W.Va., with a 97-76 victory. In their first home game after hitting the road for the last two games, the Toppers were trying to complete the season sweep against Wesleyan.

With an injured Dan Monteroso, who starts and is the leading scorer for the Toppers, the Toppers hoped to begin the game very strong. Devin Hoehn found his groove very quickly, knocking down two threes and scoring the Toppers first eight points. The Bobcats, however, countered on nearly every possession, drawing many fouls on the Toppers in the beginning minutes of the game.

The Toppers are normally known for their tough pressing abilities on inbound play, but the Bobcats executed against the press very well with multiple fast-break points. At the first media timeout, the Toppers led the Bobcats 16-14,
with a smooth ten points by Hoehn. The Bobcats, although shooting over 50 percent from the field early in the game, were troubled with offensive fouls.

Halfway through the first half, the Toppers’ energy-levels seemed to rise quickly. In a three-minute span, the Toppers went on a 14-0 run with points by Zac Grossenbacher, David Dennis, and James Griffin. After the second media timeout, the Bobcats were able to hit the free-throw line often as the Toppers hit their seventh foul with under nine minutes to go in the first-half, but turnovers began to plague Wesleyan.

The Toppers hopped out to an early 22-point lead as they converted on most the Bobcats early turnovers. Sophomore Griffin began to heat up late in the half, scoring eight of his ten first-half points in the final minutes of the half. Grossenbacher scored six points, but he mainly dominated on defense with three blocks in 16 minutes of play.

At the half, the Toppers led by 20 points with a 55-35 score. Hoehn led the Toppers with an impressive 18 points while shooting 73 percent from the field. Griffin, in only eleven minutes of play, scored ten points while shooting 67 percent from the field.

The Bobcats began the second-half with a head of steam, scoring five quick points, but turnovers continued to hurt them. The Bobcats did, however, continue to shoot relatively solid from three-point range, shooting a collective 64% as a team behind the arc. Both teams shot well early in the second-half, countering each other on nearly every possession. In the final ten minutes of the game, the Toppers held a commanding lead of 22 points with a score of 73-51.

The Toppers continued their dominance late in the second-half. It was a relatively quiet half of play for both teams, as the second-strings for both the Toppers and Bobcats received early playing time when the Toppers began to pull away.

The final score read 92-69 in favor of the Toppers, sweeping the regular season series against the Bobcats. Hoehn led the way for the Toppers, scoring 20 points, and Griffin showed up huge with 19 points in 23 minutes. The Bobcats were led by senior Mo Berchie with 18 points.          

The WLU Toppers now hold a record of 23-2 (17-2 MEC) on the season. The Toppers next game is Saturday, Feb. 18, home at the ASRC. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.

Photo Credit: Josh Smith and Daniel Morgan