By Duane Cochran
For the Times West Virginian
Veteran Fairmont State coach Steve McDonald calls his senior point guard Kaitlin Snyder a money player.
Monday evening against the hottest team in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Snyder cashed in in a big way, scoring a game-high 28 points, including the game-winning basket in overtime on a heavily contested driving layup with 8.8 seconds remaining to give her team a hard-fought 59-58 victory.
The win improved Fairmont to 8-3 overall and to 6-1 in the WVIAC. The loss, which snapped Seton Hill’s eight-game winning streak, dropped the Lady Griffins to 8-5 overall and to 5-2 in the league.
“Kate definitely stepped it up for us at the end,” said FSU’s Hailey Garrett, who finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. “She’s a great player and it was really important for her to step it up tonight.
“I had complete confidence in her on that last play. She had that look in her eye and when she attacked the rim I just knew it was going down.”
Snyder scored six of Fairmont’s eight points in the extra five minutes, including a 16-foot jumper with 1:22 left to play to give the Lady Falcons a 57-53 advantage. Seton Hill, however, rallied with five unanswered points to take a 58-57 lead with 27 seconds left.
On Fairmont’s final possession McDonald called a time out to set up a play for Snyder, who drove the lane and under heavy pressure from a trio of Seton Hill defenders got her shot to go to give Fairmont the lead for good. On the other end SHU’s Tiara Stossel got off a shot at the buzzer that was partially blocked by Snyder.
“Coach Mac drew up a new play for us there on that last one,” Snyder said. “He had confidence in me to make it and I feel like my teammates had my back the entire game and that felt really good. I saw an opening, cut through it and thankfully the shot went in.
“Defensively, for the most part, we played really well tonight, which was crucial because we know they’re a very good team. We knew No. 12 (Paige Alviani) was their best player and the one who gets their team going and Tiffany (Nicholson) did a wonderful job of defending her. She got some points early and some there late, but all in all Tiffany really locked down on her and held her in check. This was a big win for us.”
The victory was indeed huge for Fairmont in terms of the league standings. The Lady Falcons are locked in a fierce battle for the top spot in the conference with Glenville State and West Liberty.
“First and foremost you’ve got to give Seton Hill a lot of credit,” McDonald said. “They’re a very good basketball team which is very well coached. They know who to get the ball to and when to get it to them.
“But boy am I proud of my players. There were a couple of times there where I thought we were going to take control of the game, and sure enough here came a good Seton Hill team back against us. Then they got a lead and I was wondering if we would respond. Basketball is a game of runs and we made one more than them to get ahead. We got the game to overtime, won it in overtime and I’m really proud of my team for getting it done tonight.”
Kendra Holmes came off the bench and chipped in eight points and six rebounds for Fairmont, while Briana Welch added eight points and three boards.
Seton Hill, which lost for the first time since Nov. 25, was paced by Katie Gattuso’s 21 points and 10 rebounds. It was her league-leading ninth double-double of the season. The Lady Griffins also got 20 points from Stossel and 12 from Alvianai, who was held three points below her season average by FSU’s Tiffany Nicholson.
Fairmont State will be idle until Saturday when it visits Athens for a 2 p.m. meeting with Concord University.