ELITE EIGHT: #5/6 West Liberty Holds Off Men's Basketball, 75-74

Senior Pierce Cumpstone posted the 18th double-double of his career to lead the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Vladimir Cherry)

Cumpstone's 14th double-double nearly brings Skyhawks back from double-figure deficit

FRISCO, Texas (March 23, 2016) – Fourth-seeded West Liberty University, ranked No. 5 in the NABC Division II poll and 6th in the D2SIDA Top 25 media poll, rode a quick 15-2 run midway through the second half and withstood a valiant rally from fifth-seeded Stonehill College down the stretch to hang on for a 75-74 victory in a national quarterfinal round matchup at the 2016 NCAA Division II Elite Eight, hosted by the Lone Star Conference and Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, at Dr. Pepper Arena this afternoon.

West Liberty (31-3, 20-3 Mountain East) advances to face top-seed Lincoln Memorial University (33-2, 22-0 SAC), ranked No. 1 in the NABC poll and No. 2 in the D2SIDA poll, in a National Semifinal here at Dr. Pepper Arena tomorrow night at 7 p.m. (EDT) The Railsplitters advanced with a comfortable 93-75 victory over eighth-seeded and No. 19/20-ranked Barry University (26-7, 12-4 SSC) in today's opening game. Stonehill sees its season come to a close with a 24-9 record overall, including 15-6 in the Northeast-10, having earned its 14th NCAA Tournament bid before winning its third East Regional Championship to advance to the Elite Eight for the third time in the last ten years.

Senior Seger Bonifant (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland) posted a double-double to lead West Liberty with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds with four assists. He made 9-of-16 shots from the field and converted all four free-throws over 36 minutes of play before fouling out. Junior Devin Hoehn (Parkersburg, West Virginia/Parkersburg) scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half, finishing shooting 7-of-10 from the floor, including 2-for-5 from three-point distance, converting 3-of-4 free-throws, with five rebounds and three assists.

Freshman David Dennis, Jr. (Canal Winchester, Ohio/Harvest Prep) added 12 points, including ten in the second half, with three boards, three assists and three steals, while senior Mike Lamberti (McDonald, Pennsylvania/South Fayette) rounded out the West Liberty double-figure scorers with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting, connecting on his lone three-pointer and converting all four free-throws with four rebounds.

Junior Ryan Logan totaled 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. (PHOTO BY Vladimir Cherry)

Senior Pierce Cumpstone (Bainbridge Township, Ohio/Kenston) notched his 14th double-double of the season (18th career) to lead the way for Stonehill as he scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half on 6-of-10 shooting, including 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, converting 4-of-6 free-throws with ten rebounds. Cumpstone finished just four points shy of the 1,000-point mark for his career, ending with 996 points, 605 rebounds and 126 blocked shots in an even 100 games.

Junior Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) added 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists, while senior Adam Bramanti (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet) registered 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 2-for-5 from deep, converting all three free-throws. Senior Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) finished with 11 points, three assists and two rebounds. Bramanti capped his career ranked fifth in program history with 180 three-point field goals, while Smith moved into 14th place on the program's career scoring list with 1,370 points in 114 games, finishing third all-time with 234 three-pointers to go with 304 assists and 106 steals over his career.

West Liberty finished shooting 45.2-percent from the field (28-for-62), including 50% (16-32) in the second half, converting 13-of-15 (86.7%) free-throws. The Hilltoppers were limited to 6-for-24 shooting from three-point range (25%), but turned the ball over just five times to help in producing a 14-4 advantage in points off. Stonehill shot 43.6% (24-55) from the field, including 52% (13-25) in the second half, connecting on 11-of-23 three-pointers (47.8%), including 6-for-12 (50%) over the final 20 minutes. The Skyhawks made just 15-of-21 (71.4%) free-throws, but produced a 14-5 advantage in second chance points despite being edged on the glass 36-34.

Stonehill trailed by just two at halftime despite shooting just 36.7% (11-for-30) from the field, but West Liberty quickly pushed its lead to seven (39-32) after a three-pointer by Lamberti less than three minutes in. The Hilltoppers lead was still six (41-35) a minute later before Stonehill used an 8-2 spurt, sparked by three-pointers from Bramanti and sophomore Joel Berroa (Lawrence, Massachusetts/Central Catholic) before drawing even on a Smith layup with 14:08 to play.

Dennis, Jr., answered with a layup at the other side, but Stonehill pulled even again (45-45) on a Daniel Brix (Monroe Township, New Jersey/St. Joseph) layup with 13:27 remaining. The Skyhawks had a chance to take their first lead since midway through the first half, but Logan was whistled for a charge in the lane and West Liberty reeled off ten straight as part of 15-2 run that opened a 13 point lead (60-47) after five straight points from Hoehn with 8:55 remaining. Hoehn scored nine of his 19 points during that five minute stretch, while Dennis, Jr., chipped in with four.

West Liberty's advantage will still 13 (63-50) with 8:17 on the clock when Stonehill scored six straight to pull within seven (63-56) following two free-throws by Smith with 5:42 still to play. Bonifant converted a three-point play at the other end to restore a double digit lead, but the Skyhawks wouldn't go down without a fight and closed within two possessions (68-63) when senior Josh Heyliger (Queens, New York/The Hill School) split a pair of free-throws with four minutes to go.

Stonehill sliced the deficit to three (70-67) after two Cumpstone free-throws with 1:13 on the clock, but West Liberty got a jumper from Hoehn and then converted four straight free-throws to keep the Skyhawks at bay (74-69) with 16-seconds remaining. Smith pulled Stonehill back within three once more (74-71) with eight seconds on the clock and after a quick foul, Hoehn made one of two to seal the win with seven seconds to go before Cumpstone capped the scoring with a three-pointer with 1.6-left.

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