The Times West Virginian

December 1, 2013

FSU takes out frustrations in 91-75 romp: PHOTOS

By Duane Cochran
For the Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — There’s little doubt second-year Fairmont State men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun was angered by his team’s lackluster performance Monday in a 94-87 road loss to Glenville State.

Thus, Calhoun took out some of his frustrations on the Falcons this week with some demanding practice and film sessions.

In turn, Calhoun then told his team to take out its frustrations Saturday afternoon against visiting WVU-Tech at the Joe Retton Arena, and the Falcons followed his directions to a T.

Fairmont wiped out an early 20-17 WVU-Tech lead with an impressive 31-11 run in the last 9:23 of the opening half to take control of the game for good en route to a 91-75 victory.

“Coach’s new motto is ‘Play angry.’ He wants us to take our anger out on other teams, and today that’s what we did,” said FSU 7-foot senior center Martins Abele, who came off the bench and enjoyed his best overall outing to date of the young season, finishing with 16 points and seven rebounds in just 22 minutes of action.

“The Glenville loss was a tough lesson for us. We did not play our best. We had a hard week of practice, and today it was nice to go against someone else and see some different bodies. We just wanted to go at them, execute our stuff and play hard.”

Calhoun says he challenged his team the past few days and that Saturday the squad took a step in the right direction.

“We had a good week of practice,” said Calhoun, who watched his team improve to 5-1 overall with the nonconference victory. “We went doubles and even had some triples and we showed them a lot of tape. We showed them some West Virginia and Kansas State tapes. I remember a couple of years ago Coach (Bob) Huggins talking about Frank Martin’s teams really getting up the line and taking things away. We wanted our team to see that on tape, and we spent this week studying that and seeing how hard those teams played that year.

“Our kids are getting better. We’re very, very young. I know I keep saying that, but as this team gets more game experience I think it’s only going to get better.”

With leading scorer Stevie Browning forced to take an early seat Saturday because of foul trouble, true freshman guards Caleb Davis and Shammgod Wells needed to step up and become bigger threats on offense. Both responded to that challenge. Davis finished with 19 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals, while Wells chipped in nine points and four boards. All nine of Wells’ points came during Fairmont’s 31-11 game-changing run which ended the opening half.

“Any time we have starters go out with early foul trouble we need to have other people step up for us and today I think we got that,” said Davis. “With Chase (Morgan) and Ke’Chaun (Lewis) out, I know I really have to step up because that’s two big losses for us at the guard position. It’s basically just me and Sham, and we need to up our level of play and not play like we’re freshmen. We’re learning to do that.”

Both Davis and Abele were joined in double figures by senior forward Brendan Cooper, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds; Browning, who ended up with 14 points – 11 of which came in the final half; and redshirt freshman forward Thomas Wimbush, who contributed 11 points and nine rebounds. The double-double outing for Cooper was his third of the season. He and Wells also tied Davis for team-high steal honors with four apiece.

Trailing 48-31 at the break, the Golden Bears clawed their way back into contention thanks to a strong second-half start. Tech got within eight of the Falcons twice around the 13-minute mark before Fairmont re-focused itself and led by Cooper, Wimbush, Davis and Browning pushed the lead to 20 with 6:24 to play.

“We talked a lot this week about dealing with adversity and sticking together because at Glenville when things didn’t go well for us I feel like we kind of got too individualistic and didn’t stick together as a team and help each other,” said Calhoun. “Today, for the most part, we were much better at doing that. We still have spells where we play lackadaisical, so we’ve got to learn to push through that.”

The Golden Bears, who fell to 8-3 with the loss, were led by Brandon Burgraff’s game-high 24 points, 17 of which came in the second half. Tech also got 17 points and nine rebounds from Jauries Thomas.

Fairmont State will be idle now until Thursday when it visits the University of Charleston for a Mountain East Conference game at 7:30 p.m. at the Eddie King Gymnasium.