Urbana University traded blows with No. 3 West Liberty early on inside a packed Grimes Center, but the Hilltoppers scorched the nets by shooting 61 percent to move past the Blue Knights, 133-95, in MEC men’s basketball action Monday night.
Sophomore guard Carlas Jackson led five Blue Knights in double figures by pouring in 23 points. UU shot 49 percent overall and made seven 3-pointers.
Freshman Justin Johnson scored a career-high on 6-of-7 shooting, while freshman Jahmere Howze reached double digits for the fifth straight contest with 12 points. Freshman Austin Adams and senior Mike Newton each grabbed a team-high six rebounds and chipped in 11 points apiece.
Back-to-back offensive rebounds and putbacks from Adams gave UU a 12-10 lead, and then freshman Justin Johnson owned the paint with an old-fashioned three-point play to give UU a 16-14 advantage at the first media timeout.
The Blue Knights were strong in the post during the first half, outrebounding the Hilltoppers 22-19 while converting 11 second-chance points.
UU stayed close for the majority of the first stanza, and trailed 46-40 after a Jackson jumper at the 5:32 mark.
But that was as close as UU would get the rest of the game, as West Liberty used a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to gain a 55-40 lead.
West Liberty stayed hot the rest of the way, led by Segar Bonifant, who scored a game-high 37 points on 15-of-21 shooting.
A Howze free throw cut the deficit to 14 with 14:52 left in the game, but UU never got back within single digits of the Hilltoppers, who averaged 113 points per game entering the game.
UU will continue its four-game homestand on Saturday when it hosts Davis & Elkins for a 4 p.m. tipoff at the Grimes Center.
In the earlier game on Monday, UU’s women’s basketball team fell to West Liberty, 95-79.
For UU, Danie Shafer poured in a game-high 31 points, Stefanie Davis had 14 points and Jazmyn Haley contributed 13 points and eight rebounds.