Times West Virginian
URBANA, Ohio —
The one thing Fairmont State University’s men’s basketball team didn’t want to do here Saturday afternoon at the Grimes Center in its first game back after the holiday break was toy around with the Mountain East Conference’s last-place team.
The Falcons didn’t.
FSU raced to a 17-3 lead less than eight minutes into the contest and never looked back en route to a 70-51 victory over winless Urbana University.
“I think a big reason for that start was we were anxious to play after not playing for a couple of weeks,” said FSU sophomore guard Stevie Browning, who led all scorers in the game with 19 points and a game-high six steals. “We just carried the intensity and enthusiasm we had in practice over to the game.”
Fairmont’s first-half lead ballooned to as many as 18 before it settled on a 13-point, 36-23, advantage at the break. The Falcons’ defense held Urbana to a 6-of-26 shooting performance in the first 20 minutes (23.1 percent) and forced 11 turnovers by the Blue Knights.
“I thought we had really good practices the last two days,” said FSU coach Jerrod Calhoun, who saw his team improve to 8-3 overall and to 3-2 in the MEC with the victory. “We’ve been hit by so many injuries this year I can’t even begin to describe it. Caleb Davis (FSU’s promising freshman guard) is out with an infection and I’d say Thomas Wimbush (sprained foot) practiced maybe two hours this week so he was very rusty.
“We’ve really just tried to hold this thing together the last week, and the last two days I think the light bulb went on for our young guys and they realized how hard they have to play. I think that showed today.
“We got off to a great start. I thought Stevie Browning played the best game he’s played for us in a while. I felt like Trevor Andrews-Evans was very active, and I think Shammgod Wells is getting better and better. It’s nice to see that improvement from him.”
Wells and Browning scored 14 and 12 points respectively for FSU in the opening half to help key its fast start. They finished with 17 and 19 points.
In the second half, Urbana made a run back at the Falcons and got within nine at 44-35 with 13 minutes to go, but Fairmont withstood the rally, re-grouped and outscored the Blue Knights 26-16 to cruise to the 19-point win.
“The coaches were on us after we came back from the break about taking pride defensively, and I think that’s what we did today to seal the victory,” said Browning. “We held them to 51 points, and when we do that we shouldn’t lose many games.”
The 51 points was the second-lowest scoring output of the season for Urbana, which fell to 0-9 overall and to 0-5 in the league.
Wimbush, who has been very solid for FSU in recent games, played through his foot injury Saturday and finished with 11 points and four rebounds. The Falcons also got eight points from Chase Morgan and five points from both Andrews-Evans and Chris Lewis. Andrews-Evans also grabbed six rebounds.
Urbana was led by Casey Baker’s 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Blue Knights’ leading scorer, Danny Goins, was held to just nine points – nine below his season average of 18.
FSU will remain on the road and take on Notre Dame College in an MEC game Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in Cleveland.
“Our goal as always is to make it to the NCAA Tournament and to do that we’ve got to learn to win on the road,” said Calhoun. “Today we took a step in the right direction, but we’ve got to get better in practice Sunday and get ready for a big test Monday on the road against Notre Dame a team which has played four nationally ranked teams. They’re not going to be intimidated by us. We’ve got to be ready to go Monday night.”