By Yijing Shen, Distribution Manager
Winning over the Ohio County rival Wheeling Jesuit University this past Saturday by a score of 118-74, Coach Ben Howlett’s Hilltoppers (15-2, 11-1) kept their No.8 ranking at NCAA Division II Top 25 weekly poll and remain in first place at Mountain East Conference.
Sophomore Keegan Saben received coach Howlett’s appreciation by scoring a career-high 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and playing a tough full court press against the Cardinals this past Saturday.
The heartbroken loss versus Falcons at the end of 2018 was the first and only loss that damaged the Black and Gold’s perfect record in the Mountain East Conference. The Hilltoppers failed a 3-point try with three seconds left on the game clock after Falcon senior Jason Jolly broke the tied up situation with a successful basket. The score ended at 106-104 when the buzzer sounded.
Freshman Yahel Hill led the game with 25 points on 8-13 shooting from the field while Dalton Bolon finished 24 points on 6-of-15 from the field. The powerful senior Falcon Jason Jolly recorded 30 points and made 10 out of 18 field goals.
The Hilltoppers have won all five games against Fairmont University in the past five seasons at ASRC but with only one win in the last six meetings at Joe Retton Arena, WLU and Fairmont States are considered as the most powerful competitors.
“Whenever we play with Fairmont it is always a good battle, because we are two really good college basketball teams,” said WLU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Ben Howlett. “ It’s fun because we recruited a lot of their guys, and they recruited a lot of our guys so we know each other. We actually even have one of our former players is on their staff now. We are very familiar with each other, I think it’s going be a really good game.” Brandon Smith being that player, a guard that was on the team for the past five years.
Senior Hilltopper Brady Arnold feels excited about the game. He is also confident about taking the winning back from the Falcons and keeping the ranking up.
“I think it’s going to be a really big game for us,” said Arnold. “They beat us the first time around. If we want to win the conference and to have a big regional ranking records we definitely have to beat them.”
The game will kick off on Feb. 2, 2018 at 4:05 p.m. in the ASRC. You can watch it on WLTV-14 or listen to the stream on 91.5 WGLZ. Be sure to pick-up a copy of the Trumpet for more game previews and player profiles.
Photo Credit: Hilltoppersports.com