WHEELING, W.Va. -- Second-seeded West Liberty will return to the Atlantic Region final for the seventh-straight year after defeating Virginia State, 84-74, on Sunday evening at the McDonough Center on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University.
Seger Bonifant led the way for West Liberty with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc. David Dennis was able to penetrate and get to the basket on his way to 17 points, and also had nine assists and six rebounds. Zac Grossenbacher scored 11 points and was also a force around the rim swatting away six shots. Devin Hoehn had 10 points to go with nine rebounds.
Elijah Moore had a double-double for Virginia State with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Cyonte Melvin had 12 points and Kevin Williams chipped in 11.
Virginia State broke away from West Liberty midway through the first half going on a 13-3 run to lead 32-22 with 4:39 left. West Liberty battled back, though, and managed to take a slim 37-36 lead into halftime on a Grossenbacher three on WLU's last possession of the half.
VSU shot 46 percent from the field in the first half, including 63 percent (5-of-8) from three-point range.
The Hilltoppers started the second half strong and looked as if they might run away with the game, but Virginia State would not allow the lead to go over eight points. A Tyler Peterson made it 62-58 with 7:22 to go, but WLU scored 10 of the game's next 12 points to essentially put the game away. Included in that sequence was a foul on a three-pointer and an ensuing technical foul that gave West Liberty five shots from the free throw line in which it made four.
West Liberty will now take on the winner of Kutztown and Mercyhurst on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.