Times West Virginian
It took an extra five minutes. but Shepherd University ended Fairmont State’s six-game winning streak and knocked the Lady Falcons out of first place in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a hard-fought 69-66 overtime victory here Saturday afternoon at the Butcher Athletic Center.
The loss drops FSU to 11-4 overall and to 9-2 in the league. It also allowed Glenville State (14-2, 9-1) to pass the Lady Falcons for first place in the WVIAC standings. Fairmont and Glenville have a huge showdown for first place in the conference slated for Monday at 5:30 p.m. in Glenville at the Jesse R. Lilly Gymnasium.
Shepherd, meanwhile, avenged an early-season 80-67 loss to Fairmont with Saturday’s win and improved to 7-8 overall and to 6-5 in the league.
Fairmont endured a horrible shooting afternoon against the Lady Rams yet still somehow found itself in a position to win. The Lady Falcons finished just 23-of-69 from the field (33.3 percent), including 6-of-19 from 3-point range (31.6). At one point FSU had connected on just 10-of-39 field goals (25.6 percent) and 2-of-10 threes (20 percent) and trailed the Lady Rams by 15 at 40-25 with 15:12 remaining in regulation.
Instead of folding, however, Fairmont rallied and over the course of the next five minutes went on a 16-4 run to close the gap to just three at 44-41 with a little over 10 minutes left.
The FSU surge eventually ballooned to 26-10 as the Lady Falcons took their first lead of the game at 51-50 on a fastbreak layup by Emily Lohr with 4:35 to go. Down the stretch both teams had chances to win the game in regulation but couldn’t convert on them.
FSU’s Kaitlin Snyder, who finished with a game-high 28 points, 20 of which came in the second half and overtime, sank a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 55.
At the other end Shepherd’s Priscilla Moseh was fouled with five seconds left and stepped to the line for a pair of free throws. She, however, missed both and Lohr controlled the rebound for Fairmont as time ran out in regulation.
“I absolutely think we should have won it in regulation,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “In a game like this it’s simply all about making plays, and we had opportunities to make enough plays in regulation to win the game.”
In overtime FSU grabbed the early lead, but couldn’t maintain it as Shepherd’s 6-3 sophomore center Gabby Flinchum established herself in the paint and proved to be hard to stop. She scored eight of her team’s 14 points in overtime and finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
“This was a great team win for us, but Gabby is absolutely the one who came up big for us there in overtime,” said Shepherd coach Melanie Ford. “She had confidence in herself and got it done for us.”
Fairmont’s last lead came with 2:08 left to play when Lohr sank one-of-two free throws to give her team a 62-61 lead. In the final two minutes, however, Shepherd outscored FSU 8-4.
“This basketball game today was a simple case of them imposing their will on us for the first 25 minutes,” said McDonald. “For the last 15 minutes of regulation we imposed ours. We were down 15 and made an amazing comeback and got it to overtime. In overtime, though, we just simply didn’t make enough plays. I’m really proud of our kids, though. They made a great rally.”
With her 28-point performance Saturday Snyder passed Kara Morris for third place all-time in FSU history in career scoring with 1,781 points.
The Lady Falcons also got 12 points and 11 rebounds from center Hailey Garrett Saturday against Shepherd. It was her sixth double-double performance of the season. Lohr and Tiffany Nicholson finished with nine points apiece.
In addition to Flinchum’s double-double outing, the Lady Rams also got one from Emily Daniel, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Alex Weakland chipped in nine points for Shepherd, while Alex Tamez added eight, including four in OT.
Shepherd held a commanding 50-36 advantage in rebounding, but turned the basketball over 27 times compared to just 18 by Fairmont State.
As noted, FSU will be back in action Monday evening when it visits rival Glenville. The Lady Pioneers have an eight-game winning streak and are a perfect 8-0 in home games this season.