By Duane Cochran
For The Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT – For Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons, Thursday evening’s Mountain East Conference game with visiting Wheeling Jesuit at the Joe Retton Arena was all about getting back in a rhythm.
FSU, which had two of its last three games postponed due to bad weather, got back into a playing rhythm last night by halting the Lady Cardinals’ four-game winning streak with a 72-66 victory.
“We felt like we didn’t have any rhythm whatsoever as a team because of the postponements, and it’s very hard to establish whatever identity your team is going to have if you don’t have game-playing experience,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald, whose team improved to 5-4 overall and to 3-3 in the MEC with the win. “Everybody else in the country has played 12 or 14 games, and we’ve played eight until tonight.
“With this three-game stretch we have starting tonight we feel like we can get some rhythm and some consistency. We changed defenses a lot in this game and I really liked the way our kids embraced that, and I think it kept Wheeling off balance. I liked the way we played for 40 minutes.”
The trademark of this year’s FSU team is that on any given night a different player can explode on the offensive end and lead the Lady Falcons. Thursday evening junior Emily Lohr got Fairmont going early, scoring 13 of her 17 points in the opening half to help the Lady Falcons open a 40-29 lead at the break..
“We came out tonight excited to play,” said Lohr. “Before the game we were all talking and saying how we can’t afford to drop another game. We need to get on a roll here, play together and play well.
“Heading into the season we had some new players and we dropped some close games that maybe we should’ve won. We’re really still learning to play together, but I think now we’re getting more and more comfortable with that.”
When Wheeling focused on taking Lohr away, newcomer Emily Puskarich, a former three-time, first-team Class AAA All-State selection from Wheeling Park High School and a transfer from Division I Robert Morris came off the bench and in only her second game in an FSU uniform made a big impact and helped Fairmont open its first double digit lead of the game.
“It felt very good to be out there tonight because I haven’t played in a game since I don’t even know when,” said Puskarich, a freshman who nailed 4-of-5 3-point field goals and finished with 12 points. “I think I made a great decision coming here. Tonight we played with a lot of energy, and I think we played well as a team and got a nice league win.”
In the second half the Lady Falcons’ Makenzie White caught fire and took over offensively for her team. The sophomore guard finished with a career-high 25 points, 17 of which came in the second half, which helped keep the Lady Cardinals at bay. She also had a game-high nine assists and three steals as Fairmont halted its two-game losing streak.
“I think once we get into a rhythm and get going where we’re practicing and playing every few days we’re going to be fine,” said White. “Coach Mac told us you’ve got to win one, to win two in a row, and I think we can take this win tonight and build off it.
“I really think mixing up our defenses tonight kept them off balance and helped keep us focused. Now we’ve got to get ready for Concord Saturday.”
Wheeling, which fell to 5-6 overall and to 2-5 in the MEC, was led by Jaila Bryant’s 17 points. The Lady Cardinals also got 11 points from Breanna Butler and 10 from Jaana Morton.
FSU will now travel to Logan Saturday to face Concord in a 4 p.m. league contest at Logan High School. The Lady Falcons return to Fairmont Monday for a 5:30 p.m. MEC contest at the Joe Retton Arena against UVA-Wise.
By Duane Cochran
- Fairmont State Sports
Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State
In its biggest game of the season to date Fairmont State suffered its worst performance.
Fifth-seeded FSU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field (18-of-61), including a dismal 8-of-33 showing (24.2 percent) in the second half and as a result fell, 71-59, to fourth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament here Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Falcons hope for tournament run
Since day one, making another post-season run has been at the top of Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun’s mind.
Last season the Falcons went three-for-four in the WVIAC Tournament, falling to West Liberty in the tournament’s final game. The strong run, though, propelled the Falcons into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
FSU women roll in MEC Tourney opener
Fifth-seeded Fairmont State didn't waste any time Tuesday night punching its ticket for Charleston and earning a berth in the Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Wimbush named MEC Freshman of the Year
Thomas Wimbush has been named Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year, as announced by the league office this afternoon. Wimbush also joined teammates Stevie Browning and Brendan Cooper on the MEC second team.
FSU women to open MEC Tournament
When Fairmont State’s women’s basketball team toppled Shepherd, 103-80, Saturday, coach Steve McDonald didn’t know who his team would face.
Falcons edge Shepherd, earn first-round bye: PHOTOS
The scenario Saturday afternoon on Senior Day for Fairmont State's men's basketball team in its regular-season finale against visiting Shepherd University was pretty simple.
Win and receive an automatic first-round bye in the upcoming Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament. Lose and host a first-round game Tuesday night at the Joe Retton Arena.
Innocent, Garrett star as Lady Falcons roll: PHOTOS
Saturday afternoon on Senior Day at the Joe Retton Arena Fairmont State senior Brianna Innocent was anything but that against visiting Shepherd University.
The 6-foot-1 backup center came off the bench and torched the Lady Rams in the regular-season finale for 27 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to help lead FSU to a 103-80 victory.
COLUMN: Senior season comes full circle for FSU’s Innocent
In like a lion, out like a lamb. That old adage could be used to describe Bri Innocent’s senior season with Fairmont State.
Not to say that she finished her season quietly. Quite the opposite actually.
In her first game in a Falcon uniform, she played like a lion, pouring in 20 points and ripping down 10 rebounds.
FSU looks to close regular season with win
Fairmont State University’s men’s basketball team closed practice on Thursday the way it hopes to close out the regular season today at home against Shepherd at 4 p.m., directly following the women’s contest at 2 p.m.
Sophomore guard Stevie Browning went head-to-head with graduate student assistant coach Sidney Crist in a 3-point shootout.
FSU offering $1 tickets for Saturday’s games
The Fairmont State athletic department will be offering a $1 general admission ticket to any fan that donates a non-perishable food or personal care item at Saturday’s basketball doubleheader against Shepherd.
The doubleheader will begin at 2 p.m. with the women’s game and will be followed by the men’s contest at approximately 4 p.m.
- More Fairmont State Sports Headlines
- Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State