Never let it be said that Hailey Garrett isn't a team player.
With her Fairmont State squad holding a 14-point lead over the University of Charleston Saturday afternoon at the Joe Retton Arena, 8:55 remaining and FSU standout point guard Makenzie White headed to the bench with her fifth foul on a controversial charging call near mid-court, Garrett was asked by veteran coach Steve McDonald to fill a role she's not normally accustomed to but handled without a hitch.
Garrett, FSU's junior center, was asked to play the point – at least for purposes of getting the ball up the court against the Lady Golden Eagles' press. Mission accomplished. Once she got the ball past half court Garrett returned to the post and proceeded to dominate reeling off nine straight points during a late 3:06 span to help the Lady Falcons cruise to their fourth straight win, 80-62.
“In the back of our minds, at first, I think we were all a little hesitant when Makenzie picked up her fifth foul,” said Garrett, who sat most of the opening half with foul trouble and finished with 15 points. “It was like 'Oh, man,' but you know I think everybody just pulled together and really played well during those final minutes. We really wanted the win. We played together and got it done.”
The victory, which improved the Lady Falcons to 9-5 overall and to 7-4 in the Mountain East Conference, allowed Fairmont State to pass UC in the 12-team league standings and move into fourth place. The Lady Golden Eagles, who saw their three-game winning streak halted, fell to 11-5 overall and to 7-5 in the conference. UC is now fifth in the league.
“I'm very proud of our kids today,” said McDonald. “I thought Hailey did a wonderful job of bringing the ball up for us there in the last eight or nine minutes. I was pretty confident she could do it so that's why we went to that. She really played fantastic for us down the stretch.
“I also thought Emily Lohr played well in the second half and when both Hailey and Emily were out of the game in the first half with foul trouble I felt like Amanda Ruffner came in and gave us several good minutes. It's a team game and this was a team win for us.
“They're (UC) good. Some people may look at the score today and say 'wow,' but they were 6-1 on the road before today, 11-4 overall, on a three-game winning streak themselves and ahead of us in the league standings.”
With Garrett and Lohr on the bench watching for most of the first half, White and FSU true freshman guard/forward Deidra Combs shouldered the load offensively for the Lady Falcons. That duo combined for 25 first-half points as Fairmont opened a 41-34 lead at the break. White scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the opening half, while Combs tied her career-high in the win with 15 points, 13 of which came in the first 20 minutes. She also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
“Hailey and Emily are obviously key players for us and whenever they got in foul trouble early everyone on the team knew we had to step up,” said Combs. “I was just trying to take advantage of the shots that were there for me and feed off of the offense and defense of my teammates.
“Honestly, I'm just a lot more comfortable out there on the floor now with the starters than I was early in the season.”
“Deidra played very well for us, especially in the first half,” said Garrett. “She was in her element and ready to play. She really helped hold us in there in the first half and in the second half she rebounded and played good defense. For a freshman she's getting better and better with every game.”
Hallie Gunnoe chipped in 12 points for FSU, 10 of which came in the second half and Lohr finished with seven.
Chyress Lockhart, who torched Fairmont for 32 points earlier this season in a 78-75 overtime victory by the Lady Falcons, was held to just 15 points Saturday which still led the Lady Golden Eagles. UC, which shot just 30 percent from the field in the second half (9-of-30), also got 10 points from Kiara Johnson.
FSU will be idle until Thursday when it visits West Virginia State for a 5:30 p.m. MEC contest in Institute.
Never let it be said that Hailey Garrett isn't a team player.
- Fairmont State Sports
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