FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Wednesday night’s Top 25 showdown between No. 21 Fairmont State (2-1) and No. 4 West Liberty (3-0) didn’t have the same feel, or atmosphere, inside Joe Retton Arena that a game of that magnitude should given fans aren’t able to attend MEC games due to the pandemic.
In an empty gym, though, two of the top teams in all of Division-II basketball squared off.
Isaiah Sanders tallied a team-high 20 points and 14 rebounds in a double-double performance.
But Fairmont State seemingly could never swing momentum fully in its favor, multiple times getting to within two or three possessions, only to have West Liberty hit a crucial shot to push the lead back out.
West Liberty, behind double-digit scoring performances by six players, defeated Fairmont State on its home floor, 96-84.
Sanders’ three-pointer early in the first half gave the Fighting Falcons their first, and only, lead of the game, 6-5.
West Liberty won three key areas of the game: three-point shooting, rebounds, and second chance points. The fourth-ranked Hilltoppers knocked down eight threes in the first half, and ten total; they also outrebounded Fairmont State by nine; and tallied three times the second chance points (24-8).
Two-time All-American, Dalton Bolon, scored a team-best 20 points for West Liberty.
Cole VonHandorf added 17 points for Tim Koenig’s club, with Dale Bonner scoring 14 points and adding eight rebounds.
Fairmont State returns to action on Saturday on the road at Wheeling.