CHARLESTON - A second-half comeback came up short for No. 1-ranked West Liberty on Monday night as Charleston held on to hand the Hilltoppers their first loss, 101-96, at a jam-packed Eddie King Gym.
Charity certainly began at home for the Golden Eagles (12-2 overall, 8-2 WVC), who took advantage of a league season-high 40 of 55 showing from the foul line to hand West Liberty (14-1, 8-1) its second loss in its last 70 conference games.
The Hilltoppers trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half and seemed dead in the water when Evan Faulkner hit the second of two free throws for a 99-93 Charleston lead with 19 seconds remaining.
But Alex Falk answered with a quick 3-pointer from the top of the key, cutting the gap to 99-96, and Faulkner was fouled on the in-bounds pass to stop the clock with eight seconds left.
Faulkner missed both free throws, giving West Liberty a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer, but UC fouled Bubby Goodwin before he could cross midcourt.
After Goodwin missed the front end of the 1-and-1, UC's Robbie Dreher won the rebounding battle and hit two more free throws to set the final margin.
C.J. Hester had a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Hilltoppers while Falk finished with 20 points, five assists and three steals. Cedric Harris added 15 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals, while Chris Morrow had 15 points and seven rebounds.
The foul line was a double-edged sword for WLU, which made 13 of 24 free throws on the night and just 4 of 11 after halftime.
Dreher led a balanced attack for Charleston with 21 points, while Terrell Lipkins and Aleksander Kesic added 20 each. The Golden Eagles trio was a combined 28 of 35 from the charity stripe. Faulkner and Xavier Humphrey rounded out UC's double-figure scorers with 15 and 11 points, respectively.