The West Liberty Hilltoppers fall just shy of a Division II National Championship with a 84-77 loss to Central Missouri on Saturday.
The Mules (30-5) averaged only 6 3-point field goals a night through their first 34 games, buried seven in the second half alone to fuel what proved to be the winning rally.
West Liberty’s Shawn Dyer gave the Hilltoppers their final lead of the game at just under 9:00 minutes to play with a deep three to make it 65-62. But, Daylen Robinson of Central Missouri tied it with a 3-pointer with 8:21 on the clock.
A Hilltopper turnover gave the ball back to UCM after an offensive rebound extended the possession. Robinson again knocked down a three point shot to make it 68-65 Central Missouri.
Former Zanesville Blue Devil and Hilltopper Senior Cedric Harris tied it again at 68 with a 3-point shot with 6:05 on the clock.
The Mules proved to be too much as Robinson drained his third three in a 3-minute span to take the lead at 71-68 for good with 5:31 remaining in the ballgame.
Cedric Harris finished the game with 18 points, 4 assists and 3 steals. He was also named to the Elite Eight All-Tournament Team.
Former Rosecrans Bishop and Hilltopper Zak Kirkbride failed to score and provided one assist, while former Hiland Hawk and Hilltopper Seger Bonifant added 8 points and 2 steals.