Men’s basketball loses 95-58 in first-ever Elite Eight appearance

The final games leading up to a championship are where teams are truly tested to see if their style of play can stand tall against other top teams in the nation. Every team has gone through the ups and downs of a long season, but the true test of who comes out on top is the team that is able to find ways to win games while facing elimination.

Matching up against an opponent that you have never faced before is a challenge to adjust to and make a game plan to shut them down. While some teams rely on their biggest contributors from the season, others are able to put their depth on full display and dominate in a full team effort.

A matchup of two teams with completely different styles of play broke the way of a dominant offense, as West Liberty University commanded a huge 95-58 win over the University of New Haven from start to finish. Averaging over 100 points per game for the season, the Hilltoppers were able to continue their dominant run in which they went 25-3 in the regular season and currently hold a 17-game winning streak.

New Haven was unable to keep up with West Liberty’s fast-paced offense that saw all but one player register a basket and a defense that did not allow the Chargers to gain any momentum all game. West Liberty forced New Haven to commit 26 turnovers with a full-court press that the Chargers had no answer for.

West Liberty’s offense got off to a hot start as they jumped out to a commanding 13-4 lead in the first six minutes of play, moving the ball and forcing New Haven out of their coverage to knock down easy shots. Their game plan has cemented them as a powerhouse at the Division ll level and ranked them at number five in the country, spreading themselves out in a full team effort that was a vital part of their success all season.

New Haven’s offense struggled mightily in the opening minutes, scoring just four points in the first 11 minutes. The defensive pressure that West Liberty applied to the Chargers to not be able to control the ball offensively forced errant passes. This gave the Hilltoppers more chances to score, taking a massive 20-point lead with 10:47 left to play.

West Liberty’s dominance from behind the arc was a huge piece of the game plan, finishing the game shooting 16-36. Guard Christian Montague knocked down a three to make it a 22-point game, followed by a fastbreak layup from guard Steve Cannady to give them their biggest lead of the first half.

New Haven flashed a glimpse of offense in the later minutes of the half with threes from forwards Sean Braithwaite and Davontrey Thomas. Guard Kendall McMillan made it an 18-point game on a fastbreak layup, but West Liberty found their offense once again and stretched their lead back to 24 going into halftime.

The Hilltoppers picked up right where they left off in the second half, adding to their impressive display of shooting and finishing with a rate of 51.4% as a team.

Their level of depth allowed for all of their players to filter in and out of the game and still generate enough scoring chances to keep their comfortable lead. Four players tallied double-digit points and 12 of 13 players who entered the game registered at least one basket.

Guard Zach Rasile stretched the lead to 31 after a three pointer with 7:02 remaining as the Hilltoppers continued their dominant offensive display, going ahead by as many as 40 points in the final minutes.

As the buzzer sounded, West Liberty walked away with a convincing 95-58 win, sending them to the semifinal round for a matchup against Black Hills State University tonight.

New Haven’s magical season came to an abrupt end with the loss, but it was not before they made history with their remarkable playoff run by making it farther than any New Haven men’s team ever has. They came up just short of their goal, but it was a season to remember for the Chargers, earning individual accolades along the way and posting conference-best marks that highlighted a great season.

The Chargers will look to build on their historic season and solidify themselves as one of the top teams in the nation. More information about the team and the program can be found at