Men’s basketball gears up for conference match-up

By Josh Smith, Contributing Writer
Finishing up a successful season open-weekend on the hilltop, the West Liberty Hilltoppers are traveling to central West Virginia to face their first Mountain East Conference opponent. 

On Saturday, Nov. 18, the Running Hilltoppers (3-0, 0-0 MEC) will travel to Glenville, W.Va. to face off against the Glenville State College Pioneers (0-3, 0-0 MEC). Following the departure of former head coach and WLU legend Jim Crutchfield, Ben Howlett has big shoes to fill in his first season as head coach, but expectations, per usual, are sky-high for the Toppers as they face their first conference opponent. 
Last season, the Toppers won all three of their matchups against the Pioneers, one of which came in the MEC Tournament. In fact, the Toppers are 18-0 against Glenville in the last eight seasons. Coming off a strong home performance, the Toppers, led by senior graduate student Dan Monteroso, hope to continue that streak on Saturday. 
Entering his second and final season at WLU, senior guard Monteroso was honored as a first-team NCAA Division II Pre-season All-American by Street & Smith’s College Basketball Preview magazine, and he did not disappoint in his first two games. Through his first two games, Monteroso is averaging 15 points, three steals and two blocks per game. As the season presses on, look for Monteroso’s numbers continue to rise. 
Entering his second season with the Toppers, junior James Griffin continues to improve his numbers game by game. After scoring 18 points in the first game of the season, he is now averaging 15 points, four rebounds and four assists per games, shooting a clean 53% from the field and 46% from behind the arc.
After redshirting last year as a freshman, Dalton Bolon has erupted on the court for the Toppers, leading the team in scoring. Through two games, he is averaging 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals per game. Look for Bolon to be a huge contributor for the Toppers this season. 
Following their first MEC game of the season, two days later on Monday, Nov. 20, the Toppers will host the Bobcats from West Virginia Wesleyan. Last season, the two faced each other only once and the Toppers won 92-69, winners of 16 straight against the Bobcats in the last eight seasons. 
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