Fitzwater scores season-high 31 in Concord win at West Liberty

·4 min read

Jan. 6—WEST LIBERTY — Riley Fitzwater unloaded a season-high 31 points and the Concord University women's basketball team picked up a win on the road Wednesday night in a Mountain East Conference matchup at West Liberty, 88-81.

The Mountain Lions led for over 37 minutes, but had to hold off a fourth-quarter rally from West Liberty.

Up 63-52 after three quarters, the fourth quarter started with layups from sophomore guard Maddie Ratcliff and senior guard Gracie Robinson on back-to-back possessions. After fifth-year senior forward Riley Fitzwater converted a three-point play, Concord led 77-62 with 4:12 left in the game, their largest lead of the night.

The Mountain Lions (8-4, 4-3 MEC) were still up 12 points, 81-69, with 2:17 left after a jump from sophomore guard Jaisah Smith. However, Concord watched WLU cut the lead to six points with back-to-back three-pointers, and got within four points twice in the final 1:15 of the game. Concord junior guard Ashton Funderburg twice stepped up to the foul line and hit two free throws each time to help the Mountain Lions close out..

Junior guard Jazz Blankenship started the game draining two three-pointers within the first four minutes of the game. Redshirt junior forward Alexis Phillips had two layups to help push CU out to a 16-14 over the Hilltoppers at the end of the first quarter.

West Liberty (9-4, 4-3 MEC) took its first lead of the game at 22-20 at the 7:54 mark of the second quarter, and again led at 26-25. But a layup from Fitzwater and a jumper from Blankenship gave CU a 29-26 advantage, and CU never trailed again.

Concord took a 36-33 lead into halftime.

Out of the locker room, Concord outscored West Liberty 16-7 over the first six minutes of the third quarter as the run ended with a three-pointer from Ratcliff at the 4:07 mark, giving CU a 52-40 edge.

In addition to her team-leading points, Fitzwater also grabbed 19 rebounds and blocked six shots. Blankenship knocked down two three-pointers and finished with 12 points. Phillips also finished with 12 points. Senior guard Maggie Guynn scored all 10 of her points after halftime.

Concord as a unit shot 54.2 percent from the field, while holding WLU to 37.3 percent shooting. CU had 42 of its points come from inside of the paint. The Mountain Lions outrebounded the Hilltoppers 48-27.

The Mountain Lions return to the Carter Center at 2 p.m. Saturday to take on Wheeling for their first home game of 2022.

Men's Game

West Liberty 85, Concord 67

A scoreless five final minutes of the first half was too much for the Concord University men's basketball team to overcome.

The first half featured eight lead changes and three ties. The seventh lead change of the game was Concord (4-8, 2-5 MEC) getting a transition layup from sophomore guard Jordan Wooden that gave the Mountain Lions a 32-31 edge with 5:08 left.

In the first 15 minutes of the contest, the biggest lead for either team was three points. After the Wooden bucket, the Hilltoppers (12-1, 6-1 MEC) held the Mountain Lions down for the remainder of the half, taking a 40-32 lead into halftime.

West Liberty went up 44-32 on Concord, but the Maroon and Gray had an answer as it hit five of its next six field goals to trim the deficit back to 49-44 after fifth-year senior Matt Weir canned a corner three-pointer at the 14:31 mark. The five-point margin was the closest CU would get for the remainder of the game as WLU extended its lead back out to double digits two minutes after Weir's triple.

Wednesday night proved to be a defensive game as both defenses held the offenses under 45 percent shooting for the contest. A near 50-percent shooting team, Concord held West Liberty to 43.7 percent from the field while CU was limited to 41.8 percent shooting.

The Mountain Lions also held WLU to 26.7 percent from three-point range. Concord hit on 36 percent of its three-pointers (9-of-25).

Weir scored 17 points. Fifth-year senior forward Lual Daniel Raham netted 14 points and added six rebounds. Wooden had nine points off the bench. Senior guard Brandon Kennedy and junior forward Jevon Laidler each had six.

Concord returns to the Carter Center to face Wheeling 4 p.m. Saturday.

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