Times West Virginian
Fairmont State and West Liberty will tangle for the top spot men’s basketball spot in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a showdown at the ASRC on the campus of West Liberty tonight.
The Hilltoppers come into the 7:30 p.m. matchup ranked No. 1 in the country in NCAA Division II.
Fairmont State enters Thursday’s game a winner of eight of its last nine, with the lone setback being a 77-75 loss at Division I Kent State. The Falcons rolled to a 88-60 win over West Virginia State in their last time out. The ’Toppers are coming into the game off their first loss of the season, a 101-96 setback against Charleston at Eddie King Gymnasium. West Liberty has not lost consecutive games since the 2008-09 season when it lost to Wheeling Jesuit (Feb. 2) and WV State (Feb. 7).
West Liberty has lost at home just twice since the 2007-08 season. The last WVIAC team to defeat the ’Toppers at home was Fairmont State back on Feb. 14, 2008.
Fairmont State leads the all-time series between the two schools, 82-53. However, WLU has dominated the series as of late, going 17-1 against FSU since Jim Crutchfield took over the program.
The women’s team from the two schools, which clash at 5:30 p.m., are two of the top three teams in the most recent WVIAC standings.
Fairmont State comes into the game winners of five straight and nine of its last 10, with the lone setback being a narrow road loss at Charleston. The Falcons dispatched West Virginia State State 66-50 on Monday night.
The ’Toppers are coming into Thursday’s game after a lopsided 78-59 victory at Charleston. West Liberty is 4-0 at home this year while Fairmont State is 4-2 on the road this year.
WLU and FSU have six common opponents so far this season. Both teams are 5-1 against those teams, with WLU’s loss coming to Seton Hill and FSU’s loss coming to Charleston.
West Liberty leads the all-time series between the two schools, 32-30. The two teams have split the regular-season meetings in five of the last six seasons. FSU was victorious in its last trip to West Liberty, defeating the ’Toppers 72-62 last season. Both games last season were decided by 10 points or fewer.
On the men’s side, West Liberty is ranked first in the country in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, assists per game, assist/turnover ratio and turnover margin.
West Liberty has scored 90 points or more in all but one game this season and has topped 100 points 12 times. WLU pumped in a season-high 143 points against UPR Mayaguez.
Alex Falk leads four players in double figures scoring this season averaging 19.9 points per game. Cedric Harris adds 17.9 points per contest. CJ Hester scores 14.7 and Chris Morrow contributes 11.0. WLU makes nearly 11 three-pointers per game.
For the women, West Liberty’s Hillary Southworth is the leading scorer in the WVIAC averaging 21.4 points per game. She has three games of 30 points or more this season. Southworth is also second on the team in rebounding with 5.7 per game.
WLU is averaging seven made three-pointers per game.