"We weren't giving ourselves space. We were throwing the ball from me to you [just a few feet], and they're getting a hand on it, coming up with it and scoring a layup. We gave them 10 or 12 points real quick off turnovers . . . we were giving them 'pick-sixes.'
"We settled down, we took care of it, we executed our game plan and came out with a great win."
The Eagles kept pulling the lead back out to double digits, leading 87-77 inside the 5:00 mark. But a Cedric Harris 3-pointer signaled the Hilltoppers weren't fading just yet.
But neither was UC's drive-and-draw game, as Lipkins and Aleksander Kesic hit eight straight foul shots to maintain a seven-point lead, 97-90 with 38.5 seconds left. By then, two of the four West Lib disqualifications had taken place.
The Hilltoppers' finally parry made the gold-clad UC fans more than a little nervous. Alex Falk scored six of his 20 points on a three-shot foul and a 3-pointer, and UC split four free throws to make the lead 99-96 with 12.6 seconds left.
With 8.3 seconds left, Faulkner had two chances to put the game away, and missed both. As West Liberty coach Jim Crutchfield called timeout with 7.0 seconds left, the Hilltoppers had plenty of time to tie it.
Except that UC only had six team fouls, and used one quickly. Bubby Goodwin missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Dreher was fouled and made those two free throws to send the Hilltoppers home with a loss.
West Liberty shot just 38.5 percent in the first half, 44.7 percent for the game, and suffered 20 turnovers and 34 personal fouls. C.J. Hester contributed 20 points and 14 rebounds.
"No one wins forever," Crutchfield said. "The bulk of their offense was just taking us off the dribble and either getting to the rim and scoring or getting to the rim and getting fouled. I thought we did a better job, for the most part, in the second half of shutting that down a little bit, but they found other ways to score."
UC shot 49.1 percent from the floor and finished with just 14 turnovers. Dreher finished 11 of 15 from the line and Lipkins, who scored 20 points, was 10 of 12. Kesic, 7 of 8 from the line, added 20 points and nine rebounds.
UC gets a week off before Seton Hill comes to town next Monday, and it's tough to argue that the Eagles didn't earn it.
"It's funny, but when the guys finally buy into what you're doing, you see it work, it just raises the bar," Downey said.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@ wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.