That best describes the performance Monday evening of Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons in the second half of their 68-41 victory over visiting Pitt-Johnstown at the Joe Retton Arena.
UPJ came into the game having won six of its last seven outings and 10 of its last 13. The only recent setback for the Lady Mountain Cats came by six points to league-leading Glenville State.
Fairmont, on the other hand, had dropped two of its last three and five of its last eight.
On Monday, however, the Lady Falcons returned to form thanks to a suffocating second-half defense that held UPJ to just five field goals and 13 total points.
“I’m really, really proud of our kids tonight for their efforts,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald, who watched his team improve to 15-8 overall and to 13-5 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. “We had
an idea of what we wanted to do tonight defensively against them, but no matter what you design if your players don’t buy into it and don’t execute it, then it doesn’t work. Tonight they really bought into what we wanted them to do and played extremely hard. I think this was probably our best half of defense that we’ve played in my 13 years here, especially given the fact that Pitt-Johnstown is a very good basketball team and was playing very well coming in here.”
Fairmont held UPJ to a 5-of-32 shooting performance in the second half (15.6 percent) and held the league’s second-leading scorer Kaitlynn Fratz, who came into the contest averaging 19.6 points per outing, to zero points for the first time in her college career. Her previous season-low of points this season was nine. Fratz did not play in the game’s final nine minutes.
“We haven’t been playing very good defense lately and tonight we all got together and realized that we needed to play good defense to win,” said FSU’s Tiffany Nicholson, who finished with 12 points, three steals and three rebounds. “When we play defense like we did tonight we’re just a much better all-around team. Good defense leads to good offense for us.”
Fairmont opened an 18-6 lead early on UPJ only to watch the Lady Mountain Cats explode on a 17-3 run to take a short-lived 23-21 lead with 3:33 left in the opening half. The teams then settled for a 28-28 tie at the break.
In the second half FSU senior point guard Kaitlin Snyder wasted no time keying a game-changing 16-5 run during the first 7:30 to help the Lady Falcons open a 44-33 advantage with 12:32 remaining.
After that, the contest wasn’t close. Snyder scored 10 of her game-high 21 points on the run.
“Our full-court pressure defense really helped us tonight,” said Snyder, who also grabbed eight rebounds in the win. “Tiffany got a lot of steals for us off of that and everyone contributed tonight, which was a key. We needed this win. We were coming off of a bad loss to State and we needed to get back on track.
“Everything clicked for us offensively and defensively. We spread things out a little more on offense and I think that helped us. We knew Pitt-Johnstown had a very good team. We played them early on and only beat them by three. We knew they had a couple of very good players and we tried to key in on them and take them away, and for the most part I think we did a good job of that.”
FSU’s Hailey Garrett, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds, agreed.
“We knew we had to get a win tonight and we knew we had to play hard to do it,” said Garrett, who tallied 10 of her points in the second half. “We definitely did that. This win kind of re-motivated us.
“We’ve got to pick it up here during the remainder of the regular season, play like we know we can play, and I think we’ll be fine.”
Hallie Gunnoe chipped in eight points and eight rebounds for FSU, while Emily Lohr grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and had three points.
UPJ, which entered the game just one spot behind FSU in the league standings, fell to 13-8 overall and to 11-8 in the WVIAC. The Lady Mountain Cats were led by Nicole Carmen, who had 13 points, and Inaya Stephenson, who finished with 10.
FSU, which remained third in the conference standings, will host Alderson-Broaddus in its next outing Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena. The Lady Battlers have won three of their last four games.
- Fairmont State Sports
FSU’s rally falls short against ’Toppers
Twenty minutes into Saturday night’s Mountain East Conference semifinal-round showdown between top-seeded and No. 3 ranked West Liberty and fourth-seeded Fairmont State here at the Charleston Civic Center the Falcons looked down and out.
Cooper leads FSU past Bobcats, 70-62
Brendan Cooper played liked a first-team all-league selection even though he strangely wasn't, and Chase Morgan did what he does best in the game's final 1:18 – hit shots.
The result was a 70-62 Fairmont State victory over fifth-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
West Liberty, Glenville, Charleston advance to MEC semi-final
Charleston out-lasted Wheeling Jesuit, 91-85, in overtime in the first quarterfinal of the Mountain East Conference Tournament presented by GoMart on Friday afternoon.
Andre Harris, who finished with a game-high 22 points, picked up a steal and then converted a traditional three-point play to put Wheeling Jesuit up 76-73 with :21 seconds left.
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.
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