EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- The Drury Panthers had a big test Wednesday night alongside West Liberty, who was making its fourth straight Elite Eight appearance.
The Panther's game plan was to try to control the tempo and keep their sharp shooters from connecting from the outside.
The Hilltoppers took the early lead, All-American Cedric Harris with the layup; its 5-2 West Liberty.
But Drury battled back, the Drake Patterson three gives the Panthers their first lead of the game at 20-19.
Drury's defense was cranked up. Cam Adams flies through the air for a big rejection.
Ian Carter had a big first half, a basket makes it 32-21 Panthers, he had 11 first-half points.
“West Liberty could not get its three-point machine going in the first half, a three from Devin Hoehn, one of just 4 in the first half; it was tied at 32.
But Lonnie Boga answers for Drury and the Panthers led 36-34 at the half.
The Hilltoppers Cedric Harris would spark a 12-1 run in the second half, this hoop and foul makes it 47-45 West Liberty.
Harris picked up his fourth foul with 13 minutes left but it didn't matter.
The Hilltoppers cranked up their pressure defense in that second half.
Twelve turnovers resulted in 18 West Liberty points.
Sophomore sharp-shooter Seger Bonifant took advantage.
He made three straight 3's to give West Liberty a 70-60 lead.
Drury could not recover and West Liberty knocks out the defending champs 85-75.