College Spotlight: West Liberty's Run Raises Bar for Mountain East

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"For our guys, they played as hard as they could. We've kind of based our program on playing with a lot of heart. It helps you win basketball games when you do that. But when you lose, it's painful," West Liberty Men's Basketball Head Coach Jim Crutchfield said.

Losing is never easy, especially when a National Championship is on the line. But the run West Liberty made this season was much more than a loss in the title game -- It set the bar for the rest of the Mountain East Conference.

"With West Liberty going on that national stage and doing well, and making the final game - it's only going to promote this conference even more," Glenville State Men's Basketball Head Coach Stephen Dye said. "We were proud of them. We hated to lose to them in the first round of the national tournament. But we were proud of what they did and were cheering them on as a partner in this Mountain East Conference."

The Hilltoppers have a become nationally-known program over the last decade. This year's final four was their third in the last four seasons, and their first championship game appearance in school history. Still, a loss in the biggest game of the season hurts.

"It's really disappointing," Crutchfield added. "It's very disappointing. It just happens sometimes. Shots don't always fall for you. Again, they just stepped up and they made some big shots.

Regardless of missing shots, West Liberty stepped up and made a big one for the Mountain East Conference, giving hope to teams like Glenville State, among others across the league. 

"We now have a certain gauge," Dye stated. "Not only for a conference championship, but now we know we can compete nationally. If we do things right, play the game the right way, along with getting a few key players to come in here. We're right on that next level to being not only something well-known in the state of West Virginia, but being well-known nationally."

Coming off their first tournament appearance in men's basketball history, Glenville State could be the next program to benefit from the Hilltoppers success.

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