WISE - - UVa-Wise battled against No. 5 West Liberty Thursday night as the Hilltoppers outlasted the Cavaliers 112-100 inside the Prior Center.
Redshirt freshman Briggs Parris led UVa-Wise with 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field. Freshman Kaeleb Carter netted a season and career-high 22 points while junior Tajh Eason also scored in double digits for UVa-Wise with 10 points. Freshman Cameron Whiteside added 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 from behind the arc, and six rebounds.
The Hilltoppers pulled out to a 10-1 lead less than three minutes into the game. West Liberty would extend their lead to double-digits but back-to-back threes by Parris and Whiteside with 9:18 on the clock would put UVa-Wise down by just three, 30-27.
Whiteside would tie the game up at the foul line, 33-33, with 7:39 to go in the opening half. West Liberty would maintain its advantage over UVa-Wise before the Cavs ended the half on a 5-0 run to cut West Liberty's lead to four as the Hilltoppers led 54-50.
UVa-Wise shot 54.3 percent (19-for-35) from the floor, 57.1 percent (8-for-14) from downtown, and 66.7 percent (4-for-6) from the free throw line. West Liberty ended the half shooting 50 percent (16-for-32) from the field, 50 percent (7-for-14), and went 15-for-16 (93.8 percent) from the foul line. UVa-Wise had 20 points inside the paint to start with 11 points off of Hilltopper turnovers.
West Liberty quickly gained another double-digit advantage to start the second half, leading the Cavs 62-52 with 18:38 to go. The Hilltoppers would get their largest lead of the night with 14:36 on the clock to extend their advantage to 12 points, 74-62, over the Cavs. A 7-0 run by Carter would cut the deficit to five, 74-69, less than a minute later.
Eason would get the Cavs within four points as he knocked down a shot at the charity stripe, 89-85, with 8:30 left in the game. The Hilltoppers would gain another 12 point advantage with 5:39 on the clock before a 7-0 run by the Cavs put the score at 100-95 with UVa-Wise trailing.
The Hilltoppers would pull away at the free throw line to end the game with the final score reading 112-100.
The Cavs shot 54.8 percent (17-for-31) from the field to close out the second half. West Liberty went 15-for-30 (50 percent) from the floor in the second half and made 23-of-26 (88.5 percent) from the free throw line. The Cavs finished the second half with 24 points inside the paint to 14 points for the Hiltoppers.
UVa-Wise ended the night shooting 54.5 percent (36-for-66) from the floor, 50 percent (13-for-26) from downtown, and went 15-for-25 (60 percent) from the charity stripe. West Liberty shot 50 percent (31-for-62) from the floor, 12-for-28 (42.9 percent) from three-point range, and went 38-for-42 (90.5 percent) from the free throw line.
The Cavs posted 44 points inside the paint to 28 for West Liberty. The Hilltoppers outrebounded the Cavs 45-25 and totaled 13 turnovers to nine for UVa-Wise.
Blake Mellinger's team will return to action on Saturday for a 4 p.m. tip against the Cardinals of Wheeling Jesuit.