CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The favored West Liberty University men's basketball team claimed its third consecutive West Virginia Conference Tournament championship, receiving 27 points, six assists and four rebounds from Alex Falk in a 92-78 victory over resurgent Fairmont State on Saturday at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Hilltoppers (30-1) have won 16 consecutive games, and have defeated the Falcons (22-7) three times this season, including 82-77 at West Liberty, and 103-99 at Fairmont.
Fairmont State led 48-46 with 16:28 left before the Hilltoppers 18-4 run to take a 12-point lead just 7 minutes later.
For the Falcons' part, they were making their first appearance in a conference title game since 1985, the year they lost to W.Va. Wesleyan 72-66.
The surprise was the margin of victory, West Liberty Coach Jim Crutchfield said.
"I think everybody was looking for a wire game and so was I," Crutchfield said. "I thought we played good, efficient basketball. Fairmont State is a very, very good basketball team and their program is sky high. For us to take them out for a 14-point win is surprising."
West Liberty, the No. 1 team in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Poll and the No. 1 team in the Atlantic Region, is expected to host the regional beginning on March 14. The bids will be announced on Sunday, March 10. Fairmont could also receive a bid.
"I would be shocked if we didn't get in," said Fairmont State Coach Jerrod Calhoun, in his first year guiding the Falcons.