Though the men’s basketball team came up a few minutes shy of hoisting its first national championship trophy this past March at the NCAA DII Championship Game, the Hilltop enjoyed an entire season of winning support from its fans.
“West Liberty University put on an amazing show. This kind of basketball and teamwork doesn’t happen easily. We are so proud of our Toppers and their performance in the Elite 8,” said loyal fan and donor Jack Adams ’63, who followed the Toppers all season long. Though this was WLU’s first championship game, the Hilltoppers were playing in their fourth straight Elite Eight and have played in three of the last four Final Fours.
But the big win was not to be, as No. 20 Central Missouri caught fire down the stretch and rallied to an 84-77 victory in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight national championship game at the Ford Center. Still there are many successes to be counted.
More than 1,200 WLU fans attended the championship in Evansville, Ind. Many traveled by bus, privately paid for by local sponsors who stepped up to support the University. In a mere four hours, $12,000 was raised.
“The display of support from the community meant so much. West Liberty enjoys a tremendous support from the community, alumni and staff. It’s like a family,” said Director of Development Angela Zambito Hill.
Sunday, March 30, a parade welcomed the team home. Hundreds of fans of all ages turned out to wave their Topper towels and cheer the returning Hilltoppers.
Viewed by an estimated audience of 3.1 million people, the final game offered priceless brand promotion and advertising.
“Our reach during the 2014 Elite 8 has been huge. Our analytics are through the roof and we are so proud of our team! West Liberty University, its students, staff and alumni have the right to brag,” said Vice President of Institutional Advancement Jason Koegler