The Times West Virginian

Duane Cochrane

February 7, 2014

Lady Falcons pull away late to top Urbana: PHOTOS

FAIRMONT — With eight minutes remaining and Fairmont State trailing by three to second-place Urbana University Thursday evening at the Joe Retton Arena, veteran Lady Falcons' coach Steve McDonald called a time out to simply challenge his team more than talk strategy.

At that point McDonald sensed his squad was being out-hustled and out-played on both ends of the floor and he basically had seen enough.

The Lady Falcons responded to the challenge, outscored the Lady Blue Knights 28-15 in the last eight minutes and rolled to an emotional 87-77 victory.

“Time outs are there for a reason and your team doesn't always react to them,” said McDonald. “As a coach when your players do respond to that type of challenge, which was all positive from us, it makes you pretty happy.

“We asked them to defend, block out and play with emotion. There was another timeout called by them at the 3:23 mark and we reminded them again to do those things and I thought our kids did a great job. It was certainly a wild basketball game and very interesting in many respects, but I'm extremely proud of our players.”

The win, Fairmont's sixth in seven outings, improved the Lady Falcons to 11-6 overall and to 9-5 in the Mountain East Conference. FSU is currently fourth in the 12-team league.

Urbana fell to 14-6 overall and to 11-5 in the league with the loss, but remained in second place behind nationally-ranked Glenville State.

Fairmont's late surge was keyed by a number of players, including Makenzie White, Deidra Combs, Hallie Gunnoe, Brianna Innocent and Hailey Garrett. White scored 21 of her game-high 25 points in the second half including 13 in the final 7:18.

“This was a complete team win for us,” said White. “I can't say enough about Deidra and her efforts on defense and rebounding the ball. She does that every game, so that's a given with her. As for me, I just tried to take what they were giving me and I'll throw the ball down inside as much as I can because Hailey has the moves and Bri has the power and either way I feel like we're going to get points.

“I think we shot the ball as a team really well from both the field and the free throw line which was huge. One of our goals was to make more free throws than they took and we did that. That was crucial for us.”

FSU was 28-of-66 from the field (42.4 percent) and 27-of-32 at the foul line, including an outstanding 22-of-23 performance in the final half. The Lady Falcons held Urbana to just a 24-of-62 performance from the field (38.7 percent) and a 20-of-23 showing at the foul line.

Garrett added 20 points, seven rebounds and four steals for Fairmont before fouling out with 2:41 to play. FSU also got 14 points from Emily Lohr, 11 points and six rebounds from Gunnoe, nine points and six rebounds from Innocent and seven points, a game-high 13 rebounds and four steals from Combs.

“I think as a team we started playing hard and really coming together, especially at the end,” said Combs. “There were a lot of momentum swings in this game. When it's on the line we seem to really pull together and play well on both ends of the floor. Our rotations on defense and boxing out were big keys for us.”

FSU trailed 36-31 at the break, but opened the final half with a 15-2 run to take a 46-38 advantage with 15:45 remaining.

“Coach always tells us the first five minutes of the second half are very important and that the halftime score is the most unimportant score in the game,” said Innocent. “This was a big win for us because they had already beaten us once.

“As a team, I feel like we're really starting to mesh and play well together. It feels pretty good too.”

Urbana was led by Katie Barkley's 18 points. The Lady Blue Knights also got 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds from DeVonyea Johnson.

FSU will return to action Saturday afternoon when it hosts sixth-place Notre Dame College (12-7, 9-6) at 2 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena.

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Duane Cochrane
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