CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The littlest Hilltopper came up big in the clutch Saturday night as No. 4 West Liberty won its second straight West Virginia Conference Tournament title, rallying past No. 22 Charleston, 93-90, in an overtime thriller that capped the 75th Anniversary event at the Civic Center Coliseum.
Tim Hausfeld, a 5-7 guard who ranks among nation’s the top 3-point shooters, had been suffering through the worst shooting night of his career before hitting a 3-point bomb with 6 seconds left in regulation to force the extra period.
“Coach (Jim Crutchfield) just told me to keep on shooting,” said Hausfeld, who was just 1-for-10 from behind the arc before nailing the game-tying 3-pointer. “I got a pretty good look and I wasn’t going to turn it down.”
Crutchfield, who joined Fairmont State’s legendary Joe Retton as the only WVIAC coaches ever to sweep the league’s regular-season and tournament championships in consecutive seasons, had to pause to catch his breath after a game that featured a staggering 17 ties and 17 lead changes.
“What a terrific championship game,” Crutchfield said. “I thought we played a great game but Charleston played great, too. We just made one more big shot than they did. Our guys just played hard like they always do and this was a great win for them.”
As the final seconds of regulation ticked away, it seemed that the Golden Eagles (26-6) would be walking off the court with the championship hardware instead of the Hilltoppers (29-2).
P.J. Reyes, the WVIAC Player of the Year, gave Charleston a 78-77 lead with a 3-point play as he was fouled while throwing down a dunk with 1:41 left in regulation.
West Liberty came up empty at the other end and UC ran the shot clock down into single digits before a Xavier Humphrey miss but Marco Richardson’s rebound basket put the Eagles up, 80-77, with 23 seconds left.
Crutchfield called timeout with 11 seconds left to set up the final play. The ball came in to Alex Falk, who curled around the top of the key and kicked the ball out to Hausfeld. The junior sharpshooter didn’t hesitate and his shot hit nothing but net, sending the game into overtime.
Charleston started strong in the extra frame and took a 90-86 lead into the final 2 minutes before Hausfeld kick-started the Hilltoppers’ winning rally.
The diminutive guard drew a foul on a 3-point attempt with 1:27 remaining and swished all three free throws to pull the Black-and-Gold within a single point at 90-89.
Shawn Dyer swiped the ball from Reyes at the top of the key with a minute remaining and Falk put West Liberty ahead to stay, 91-90, when he battled all the way to the rim for a left-handed layup with 42 seconds remaining.
Charleston ran the game clock down under 20 seconds before calling timeout to set up a play for Reyes but the Hilltoppers denied Reyes with an outstanding defensive effort, forcing UC’s Xavier Humphrey to launch a desperation 3-pointer just ahead of the shot clock.
Cedric Harris was fouled with 4 seconds left after pulling down the rebound and made both free throws to put the game away.
Falk, who played all 45 minutes, capped a stellar week with 24 points and 11 rebounds while freshman C.J. Hester added 18 points and 7 boards. Harris had 15 points and 7 assists and Hausfeld finished with 14 points – 9 of them coming on his last shot of regulation and in overtime.
Reyes took game scoring honors with 33 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds but Evan Faulkner was Charleston’s only other double-figure scorer with 12 points.
The Hilltoppers dominated the All-Tournament awards. Falk was named Tournament MVP and also collected the George Springer Sportsmanship Award while Hausfeld won the Commissioner’s Heart & Hustle Award. Falk, Harris and Chris Morrowrepresented West Liberty in the All-Tournament Team.