Coach Jerrod Calhoun had seen enough.
With 25 seconds still on the game clock and his Fairmont State University Falcons trailing the University of Charleston by double digits Saturday afternoon at Joe Retton Arena, the coach took off down the court. He shook hands with the opposing coach, and then with time still winding down on the scoreboard, he made a bee-line for the locker room, disgusted.
Prior to the game, Calhoun highlighted a four-game stretch, saying that the results would “define the season.”
But after the game began to slip away in the second half and after Calhoun berated his team on the bench for their careless passes, a lackadaisical mindset on the boards and a general lack of urgency, it was clear that this was not the “defining” moment Calhoun had hoped for.
“If you want to play in March, you’ve got to win games,” Calhoun said Wednesday. “Our kids understand that they’re running out of time.”
With the loss, the Falcons (11-6, 6-5 MEC) missed a key opportunity to jump into the upper-rung of Mountain East Conference teams. The five conference losses through 11 games have already equaled last year’s total in 22 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games.
But still, the fact remains that Calhoun pointed to four decisive games, not one. More notably, the sixth-place Falcons still have 11 games to play over the next month and change.
As Fairmont State senior center Martins Abele tweeted Wednesday: “Victory is on the other side of defeat. They say there’s always a breakdown before a breakthrough. Stay in a fight. Victory is yours!!!”
The Fighting Falcons will see exactly how much fight they have left beginning today when the team visits West Virginia State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. after the women’s game at 5:30 p.m.
Fairmont State enters the game after scoring just 66 points against Charleston, its second-lowest scoring output of the season. Today’s game against the West Virginia State (7-8, 4-8 MEC) comes at a perfect time for Falcons, as the Yellow Jackets are giving up a league-worst 92.6 points per game.
When the two teams met on Dec. 7, five Fairmont State players scored in double figures to help the Falcons to a 107-89 victory, the Falcons’ second-best offensive outburst this year.
Does that mean Fairmont State will turn in an equally potent offensive performance today?
“I hope so,” Calhoun said. “Against these guys you’ve got to get up and down and get some transition baskets.”
However, if Saturday’s game taught the Falcons anything, it’s that they need to put together two solid halves. If it hasn’t proven that point, the December showdown with the Yellow Jackets should reiterate it, since the Falcons trailed by two at the half before pulling ahead.
West Virginia State, which has lost back-to-back games, is led by three players who average double figures: Bo King (21.3 points per game), Anton Hutchins (18) and Dominic Phillips (16.8).
"They're a very guard-heavy team that looks to get out in transition,” Calhoun said. “We've got to get back in transition and try to make it a halfcourt game.”
But more than what the Yellow Jackets do, the Falcons will need to play their style of basketball— prove that they are still the league-leader in rebounding, take care of the basketball and find ways to get senior playmaker Brendan Cooper back into the fold in just his third game back from a hand injury.
If not, the Falcons risk losing for the fourth time in five games, not to mention another early exit from Calhoun.
“I hope our kids know that our backs are against the wall,” Calhoun said. “Right now with six losses, we can’t afford to lose any more. Every game is critical.”
Injury Notes: Freshman point guard Caleb Davis will return after missing an extended period of time with a chest infection. ... Abele sustained a concussion and will miss the next three games.
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.
Coach Jerrod Calhoun had seen enough.
- Fairmont State Sports
FSU men, women miss NCAA Tournament
For a season that had its ups and downs for Fairmont State, both the men’s and women’s teams just missed the cut for the NCAA Tournament.
FSU’s rally falls short against ’Toppers
Twenty minutes into Saturday night’s Mountain East Conference semifinal-round showdown between top-seeded and No. 3 ranked West Liberty and fourth-seeded Fairmont State here at the Charleston Civic Center the Falcons looked down and out.
Cooper leads FSU past Bobcats, 70-62
Brendan Cooper played liked a first-team all-league selection even though he strangely wasn't, and Chase Morgan did what he does best in the game's final 1:18 – hit shots.
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Andre Harris, who finished with a game-high 22 points, picked up a steal and then converted a traditional three-point play to put Wheeling Jesuit up 76-73 with :21 seconds left.
Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State
In its biggest game of the season to date Fairmont State suffered its worst performance.
Fifth-seeded FSU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field (18-of-61), including a dismal 8-of-33 showing (24.2 percent) in the second half and as a result fell, 71-59, to fourth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament here Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Falcons hope for tournament run
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Last season the Falcons went three-for-four in the WVIAC Tournament, falling to West Liberty in the tournament’s final game. The strong run, though, propelled the Falcons into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
FSU women roll in MEC Tourney opener
Fifth-seeded Fairmont State didn't waste any time Tuesday night punching its ticket for Charleston and earning a berth in the Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Wimbush named MEC Freshman of the Year
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When Fairmont State’s women’s basketball team toppled Shepherd, 103-80, Saturday, coach Steve McDonald didn’t know who his team would face.
Falcons edge Shepherd, earn first-round bye: PHOTOS
The scenario Saturday afternoon on Senior Day for Fairmont State's men's basketball team in its regular-season finale against visiting Shepherd University was pretty simple.
Win and receive an automatic first-round bye in the upcoming Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament. Lose and host a first-round game Tuesday night at the Joe Retton Arena.
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