The Times West Virginian

February 16, 2014

Lady Falcons falter in second half, fall 69-57: PHOTOS

By Duane Cochran
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons exited the halftime locker room Saturday afternoon looking like a team that didn’t want to play the final 20 minutes.

Sadly, that’s exactly how they performed for the most part in the second half and as a result second-place West Liberty broke a 47-47 tie with a 10-0 run midway through the final half and cruised to a 69-57 victory.

The victory was ninth in a row for West Liberty which out-played FSU in nearly every phase yesterday in the last 12:40. The Lady Hilltoppers, who improved to 17-8 overall and to 14-5 in the Mountain East Conference, consistently beat Fairmont to loose balls, forced bad shot attempts and did an excellent job of limiting the Lady Falcons to one shot by controlling the glass. Offensively, time and time again West Liberty took FSU off of the dribble and shot easy layups which resulted in the game-changing 10-0 spurt.

“I wasn’t really happy with our effort in the first half because Fairmont, in my opinion, out-worked us and was the aggressive team,” said veteran West Liberty coach Lynn Ullom. “They were the ones beating us to loose balls and out-hustling us. That’s what we talked about at halftime.

“In the second half we became the aggressor. Our defense improved and they had a run where they missed a lot of shots and we rebounded the basketball. We’re one of the smallest teams in the league, but we lead the league in rebounding. Once we started rebounding the ball we got them in transition and we’ve got some kids who can get to the rim. It’s not the old school West Liberty where we have to live behind the 3-point line.”

All five of the Lady Hilltoppers’ buckets on the 10-0 run, which gave them a 57-47 lead with 8:51 to play, came on layups.

Fairmont’s lackadaisical play against West Liberty Saturday was unusual given the rivalry between the two squads and the fact that FSU had won the last three meetings.

“I think there were two big differences in the game, one they were able to get to halftime with three players with two fouls and the game was tied,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald, who team fell to 13-8 overall and to 11-7 in the MEC. “We should’ve been able to go into the half with a lead with those players off of the floor.

“Secondly, when the game was tied at 47 some people watching the game might have said their was a lid on the basket for us. There tends to be a lid when you play one-on-one. We had several one-on-one possessions with no ball movement and the thing about that is the ball either goes in or you have no chance at an offensive rebound. We had five possessions in a row where we went one-on-one four times and had a turnover. Consequently, the game went from being tied at 47 to us being down by 10 and we ended up losing by 12.”

Kailee Howe led West Liberty with 16 points and nine rebounds. The Lady Hilltoppers also got 14 points from Liz Flowers, 10 of which came in the final half and 10 points and 11 rebounds from Kierra Simpson.

Fairmont, which shot just 31.5 percent from the field in the game, including a dismal 27.8 percent (10-of-36) in the second half, was led by Hailey Garrett’s 16 points and game-high 13 rebounds. Makenzie White added 11 points and Emily Lohr and Emily Puskarich both chipped in eight.

FSU, which is currently locked in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference with Charleston and West Virginia State, will return to action Thursday evening with a 5:30 p.m. road game in Athens against Concord University.