WLU basketball hits the road for MEC tournament 

By Chad Richards, Contributing Writer

This last weekend saw the regular seasons of West Liberty’s men’s and women’s basketball teams end in a heartbreak to rivals Wheeling Jesuit. One was at the hands of a buzzer-beating layup, and the other was a triple-overtime thriller at the free-throw line.
While this certainly isn’t the way the Toppers wanted to see their regular season end, the season is far from over for either of them as they both move on to post-season play in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) Tournament and beyond.
That last Saturday of regular action finalized the seeding of the tournament, and while the men had had their spot guaranteed early in the season, the women put up some late key wins to secure a spot in the now 10-team field, a major change from last season. Also changing is the addition of another day to the tournament, stretching it out from Wednesday to Sunday with all games taking place at the Civic Center in Charleston. 
The men earned the second seed, giving them a bye to the quarterfinals where they will play the winner of the first round game between Glenville State (7) and UVa-Wise (10). Semifinal games will be played on Saturday with the finals on Sunday. With the field set, let’s take a look at some of the Toppers’ current and potential opponents on the road to winning the conference tournament.
Glenville is the most recent opponent of the two teams; that game featured West Liberty getting a 93-82 win after a late run. Jon Dunmeyer put 32 on the board for the Pioneers while Brandon Smith put in 18. WLU senior Zac Grossenbacher passed the 1,000 point mark that night. 
The earlier meeting in the Waco Center was another story, with overtime needed to give the Toppers a 108-105 win in a high-scoring shootout that saw three players from each team score over 20  points and five from each team in double figures. Dan Monteroso put up 25 points for West Liberty while Glenville’s Brett Morris and Terry Davis Jr. had a game-high of 26 points each. WLU senior Devin Hoehn put up 10 in the extra frame.
Meanwhile, both meetings with the Cavaliers of UVa-Wise this season have been wins, but by much larger margins of at least 20 points each game. The series started at home, with the Toppers getting the 98-71 victory. Hoehn led with 24 while Wise’s Michael Seals ended up scoring 22. They made the long trek down to Wise, Va. earlier this month and returned with another convincing win of 88-66. Monteroso took the lead with 20 points while Taiwo Badmus scoring 18 for the Cavaliers. 
On the women’s side, the women finished ninth in conference, earning them a ticket to Charleston and a first round game on that took place yesterday, March 1 at 2:15 p.m. against Charleston (8).  However, it ended there as Charleston won with 88 points, while West Liberty had 55. 
Charleston has proven to be a mixed bag for the Lady Toppers this season. The first meeting at home gave them a 71-49 win. Only one Golden Eagle scored in double figures, Jordyn Peck with 10, while four Lady Toppers scored over 10; Brandi Beader led the way with 17. 
It was a different story when the Lady Toppers traveled to Charleston,  coming up short 47-65. Marissa Brown added 21 to the score sheet, but that wasn’t enough to knock off Charleston with Peck scoring 28. 
After the tournament, the true test begins one week later: The Atlantic Regionals, paving the way to the eventual national championship in South Dakota. On the men’s side, West Liberty is regionally ranked and will likely receive one of the at-large bids to the tournament, which will likely be hosted by Fairmont State.
If you want to see the Toppers in action, you can check out ticket information on the Mountain East Conference website. If you’re staying on the hill, WLUTV-14 will have audio-only broadcasts of all West Liberty games. Video streams of all the games after the first round will also available on the conference website. 
After the conference tournament, you can expect WLUTV-14 to provide full video coverage of all the games of the Atlantic Regionals as long as a West Liberty team is playing. 
So be sure to support your West Liberty basketball teams in the next few weeks as they chase the conference crown and a spot in the national title game.  
Photo credit: Daniel Morgan