Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 19, 2013

West Liberty reaches regional final for 4th straight year

Staff report
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WEST LIBERTY — In the last season of basketball in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as currently constituted, one men's hoops team is still playing, and has played its way to the Atlantic Region championship — again.

The West Liberty Hilltoppers (32-1), the top-ranked team in NCAA Division II, will play Indiana (Pa.) at 7 p.m. this evening for the regional crown and a berth in the Division II national tournament.

The Hilltoppers, whose campus is in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle near Wheeling, are making their fourth straight appearance in the regional championship game.

WLU dispatched fellow West Virginia Conference school Fairmont State 100-77 in Sunday’s semifinal. Indiana (26-5), the No. 3 seed in the region, slipped by Slippery Rock (Pa.) 53-50 in the other semifinal.

West Liberty’s only loss this season was a 101-96 setback at the University of Charleston on Jan. 14.

Jim Crutchfield, in his ninth year leading the men’s basketball team, has been named WVIAC coach of the year four times. With a winning percentage of 82.8 percent, his career coaching record (207-43) is No. 1 nationally among all active NCAA men’s basketball coaches at any level, according to the school’s athletics website.

The Hilltoppers received all 16 first-place votes in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) final poll of the 2013 season last week. With the top seed in the region came the opportunity to play the regional round on their home floor.

The Atlantic Region champion will travel to Louisville, Ky., for the national tournament. The quarterfinals are scheduled for March 28 with the semifinals on March 30. The national championship of Division II will be decided in Atlanta on April 7.