The Times West Virginian

December 16, 2012

UC rallies to topple Lady Falcons

Times West Virginian

CHARLESTON — The University of Charleston wiped out an 11-point halftime deficit with a big second-half performance to hand Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons their first West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss of the season, 62-59, here Saturday afternoon at the Eddie King Gymnasium.

UC, which relies heavily on the 3-point field goal for much of its offense, was a miserable 0-of-13 in the opening half from behind the arc and shot just 25.7 percent from the field as a team.

As a result, FSU raced to an 11-0 advantage and held a 37-26 lead at the break. The second half, however, was a different story. UC found its shooting touch from long range and turned up its defensive intensity forcing the Lady Falcons into numerous bad passes and turnovers. Consequently, UC turned its 11-point halftime deficit into a three-point victory by outscoring the Lady Falcons 36-22 in the final 20 minutes.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak by Fairmont State, which closes out the first semester of action with a 5-3 overall record and a 3-1 WVIAC mark. Charleston, on the other hand, improved to 5-3 overall and to 2-2 in the league.

Fairmont was limited to just eight second-half field goals and shot a horrid 28.5 percent from the field in the last 20 minutes (8-of-28). The Lady Golden Eagles were 12-of-27 from the floor in the second half (44.4 percent), including 7-of-11 from 3-point range (63.6 percent). FSU also committed 22 turnovers in the loss, several of which were unforced.

“When we prepared this week we talked about doing three things — rebounding the basketball, limiting the number of run outs they’d have and contesting shots,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “In the first half we rebounded the ball and contested shots. They were 0-of-13 on 3-point shots and they had zero run outs on us and we were up 11. In the second half we rebounded and we prevented any run outs from happening, but they went 7-of-11 from three so we did not contest shots.

“It’s honestly that simple as to why we didn’t win the game. That, on top of the fact that we did not execute in the last three minutes of the game.”

After falling behind 55-52 with 7:11 remaining Fairmont went on a 7-0 run during the next 1:07 to open a 59-55 advantage with 6:04 left in the contest. The Lady Falcons, however, didn’t score for the remainder of the game but still had a chance to win or tie at the end.

In the final 20 seconds UC’s Tianni Kelly missed a 10-foot jumper with her team clinging to a two-point lead. FSU’s Briana Welch cleared the rebound and the Lady Falcons got the ball into the hands of senior point guard Kaitlin Snyder who drove the lane and missed a contested layup with 9.3 seconds left. The rebound went off of a UC player so Fairmont retained possession. On the ensuing inbounds play Welch missed Snyder who was cutting to the basket and Charleston’s Chrissy Keir got the steal and was fouled with 5.4 seconds left to play. She sank one-of-two free throws to give her team a three-point lead and secure the win. FSU’s final shot attempt was a 55-foot launch by Hallie Gunnoe which grazed the bottom of the net as time ran out.

“We played against the same team in first half but the difference was we were getting open looks or layups because we moved the basketball and we moved people,” said McDonald. “In the second half we quit moving the basketball and moving people so the shots weren’t there.

“I thought our defense, for the most part, for the whole game was good. When a team relies on 3-point shooting you’ve got to contest them. It wasn’t a case of them being off in the first half and on in the second. We contested shots in the first half and didn’t in the second half. I called two or three timeouts there in the second half to try to get us to not leave their shooters and we still did it. So, I’d say a lack of focus cost us the game.”

UC was led by LeAnne Ross and Keir, who finished with 15 and 12 points respectively in the win.

The Lady Falcons got a season-high 17 points and eight rebounds from Briana Welch, 13 of which came in the opening half. Kaitlin Snyder added 14 points and seven assists for Fairmont, while Hailey Garrett chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds before fouling out with 1:15 remaining. FSU also got nine points and eight rebounds from Hallie Gunnoe.

Fairmont State’s women will be idle now until Jan. 3 when they visit Wheeling Jesuit for a 5:30 p.m. WVIAC game at the McDonough Center.