CHARLESTON -- Sometimes, it's the tougher team that wins.
Glenville State gutted out a 52-41 win over West Liberty Saturday to claim its second straight West Virginia Conference tournament title and grab the WVC's automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
"They play harder than every team they've played this year, including us," WL coach Lynn Ullom said. "They chase after every loose ball and every long rebound and when a team as good as they are gets 80 percent of those, you're not going to beat them.
"To beat them, you have to be mentally tougher than they are, and we aren't yet."
In the lowest scoring title game in WVC tournament history, the Pioneers held West Liberty to its season low in points. Sixteen times this season, the Hilltoppers have scored more points in a half than they did in the entire game Saturday.
"The kids came through and played exactly the way we wanted them to," Glenville coach Steve Harold said. "We actually wanted it to be a low-scoring game because we thought that would be to our advantage."
49 points in three previous tournament games, was held to a season-low two points thanks to a suffocating Glenville defense that ran through the Hilltoppers' double and triple screens.
"West and (Ashlea) Bland were the two players we came in here trying to stop, and I think we did that," said GSC's Elise Pettinger, who had man-to-man coverage against West for most of the game.
Because of the ineffectiveness of their trademark screens, the Hilltoppers hit just 4 of 15 3-point attempts.
Carrie Triplett, one of three Pioneers to make the all-tournament team and the winner of the George Springer Sportmanship Award, led GSC with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Nicholas County product also had four blocks, four steals and a pair of assists.
Wyatt added 11 points and was voted the tournament Most Valuable Player.
Bland led the Hilltoppers with 15 points.
Glenville (27-3) led for most of the second half, but never by much until the closing minute. Leading 45-41, Samantha Williams banked in a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to seal the contest.
Wyatt and Triplett each sank a pair of free throws in the last :30 to close out the scoring.
West Liberty and Glenville have met in the last four WVC Tournament title games, with GSC taking the last two.
"A lot of people doubted us this year, saying what we did last year was all luck," Wyatt said. "We want to back up everything we did last year."
That lengthy list just starts with Saturday's title. Later this week the Pioneers will begin work defending last year's East Region title at a site to be announced later today.
Assistant Sports Editor Chris Vannoy can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at email@example.com