By Duane Cochran
For the Times West Virginian
For the better part of 30 minutes, Fairmont State’s men’s basketball team had control of its game with visiting Glenville State here Monday night at the Joe Retton Arena.
Trouble is, however, college basketball games last 40 minutes and in the final nine the Pioneers made FSU pay for its sloppy play and poor passing as they rallied for a hard-fought 76-75 victory.
The win allowed Glenville to sweep its season series with FSU and improve to 13-8 overall and to 10-7 in the Mountain East Conference. The Pioneers are now sixth in the 12-team league.
Fairmont State, on the other hand, saw its modest four-game winning streak halted. The Falcons fell to 15-7 overall, to 10-6 in the MEC and into a tie for fourth place in the league standings with West Virginia Wesleyan.
FSU turned the ball over a season-high 24 times in the loss and the Pioneers capitalized for 21 points off of those turnovers — a number of which came late.
“We’re a young basketball team and when you continue to give it to the other team over and over and over again it’s hard to win,” said a frustrated FSU coach Jerrod Calhoun. “We out-rebounded them by 16. We held them to 21 points in the first half, but we can’t make a three and we struggle passing the ball. To sum it up, we’re basically a bad shooting and bad passing team.
“Our staple has been rebounding and toughness. We do rebound the ball. I’ll give our kids that, but you’re not going to beat anybody turning the ball over that many times. It’s not good.”
With the score tied at 62 and 2:56 left to play Glenville pulled away from Fairmont thanks to a 7-1 spurt in a span of 1:54 to take a 69-63 advantage with 1:02 remaining.
FSU made it close in the last 38 seconds thanks to four 3-point field goals, the last of which came at the buzzer by Shammgod Wells with a Pioneer defender all over him. GSC, though, got away with the needless defensive pressure because no foul was called.
The Pioneers also sealed the win by going 9-of-12 at the foul line in the last 1:02.
“This game tonight put basketball back eight or ten years,” said Calhoun. “I certainly didn’t enjoy coaching it.
“We’ve just got to hope our player watch the tape and get better. We’ve got to learn how to pass. Anything we run, we can’t pass.”
Once again Glenville’s 2-3 matchup zone slowed down Fairmont’s offense, but Calhoun feels it was more of his team’s inability to execute against it than what the Pioneers were actually doing defensively.
“I don’t think that (GSC’s zone) was the problem,” he said. “We just can’t pass. Any sort of zone is going to give us problems. If teams don’t come in here and zone us they’re crazy. All they have to do is watch the tape. I watch the tape and I know we can’t pass. We had 24 turnovers and 10 assists. That’s bad.”
Kevin Gray led the Pioneers with 19 points, 16 of which came in the second half. GSC also got 15 points and 12 rebounds from center Lamar Mallory, 15 points from Donte Morales, 13 points from Brett Morris and 10 from Reggie Williams.
Chase Morgan led FSU with 18 points, six of which came in the final 18 seconds to keep the Falcons in it. Fairmont also got 16 points and eight rebounds from Stevie Browning, 13 points, six boards and four blocks from Brendan Cooper and 12 points from Caleb Davis.
Fairmont will attempt to rebound on the road Thursday night when it visits a hot Wheeling Jesuit team which has won six straight. Game time at the McDonough Center is 7:30 p.m.