The West Liberty men’s basketball team overcame an early 14-point deficit to knock off Anderson 113-95 in the Elite Eight Wednesday evening.
The win propels the Hilltoppers, 33-0, to the Final Four tomorrow night. AU finishes the season at 21-12.
Leading the way for WLU was Chris Morrow, who netted 25. Corey Pelle had 21 while Alex Falk and John Wolosinczuk each poured in 20. Jordan Fortney, Tim Hausfeld and Barry Shetzer each posted nine.
Pelle led the team with nine assists and four steals.
The Hilltoppers hit 45.7 percent in the first half after starting the game without a bucket for the first 4:09.
WLU buried 23-of-34 shots in the second half (67.6 percent) to notch 56.5 percent for the game.
In the opening minutes, WLU hit just one-of-six from the field and trailed 11-2 at the first media time-out. The biggest deficit of the season came at 28-14. However, the team gradually cut into the AU lead. With a 16-4 spurt, the Hilltoppers climbed within two, 32-30.
WLU tied the contest at 37, but AU hit a bucket to go ahead 39-37 at the last media time-out of the half. Pelle then hit a short jumper to knot the score at 39 apiece with 3:44 to play. Then, Fortney drilled a deep three-point shot off an assist by Wolosinczuk for a 42-39 advantage.
The five points were part of a 10-0 run over a span of just 69 seconds that gave WLU a 47-39 lead with 2:35 to go in the first stanza. AU rattled off the final three points of the half to pull within five, 52-47, at the intermission.
The designated home team, AU, pulled within three to start the second half but WLU responded with a 13-0 run over two minutes for a 65-52 lead. Fortney and Morrow completed the run on back-to-back three-point shots.
When Denzail Jones sliced the lead to 10, 67-57, Falk nailed a three off a Shetzer pass. On the next possession, Pelle found Morrow who sank one of his 10 shots on the night. This one, came from downtown and gave WLU a 73-57 margin with 16:19 to play.
With 8:19 left in the game, Morrow’s jumper gave WLU a 96-69 lead – its largest of the night.
For the game, the Hilltoppers dished out 23 assists while just allowing seven. WLU recorded 17 thefts in the evening. Off the 29 turnovers by AU, WLU posted 37 points.
WLU will play the winner of BYU-Hawaii tomorrow night at 8:35 p.m.