The Times West Virginian

January 31, 2014

State rallies late to edge Lady Falcons

Times West Virginian

INSTITUTE — West Virginia State rallied from a six-point deficit in the game’s final 34 seconds to nip visiting Fairmont State, 63-62, in a battle for third place in the Mountain East Conference standings here Thursday night at Fleming Hall.

Trailing 62-56 State reeled off seven unanswered points, including a follow-up basket by 6-1 senior forward Asia Greenleaf off a missed layup by Lexy Carson with four seconds remaining which proved to be the game-winner.

Greenleaf finished with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds. She scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half. She also had a putback bucket off of a missed 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to pull the Lady Yellow Jackets to within two at 62-60.

The win, State’s sixth in its last eight games, improved the Lady Yellow Jackets to 13-6 overall and to 9-4 in the MEC.

Fairmont, on the other hand, fell to 9-6 overall and to 7-5 in the league. The loss snapped FSU’s four-game winning streak.

Turnovers plagued the Lady Falcons all night, but proved to be very costly in the waning seconds. FSU turned the basketball over three times in the final 29 seconds and finished with 23 turnovers for the game. State, on the other hand, suffered just 16 turnovers.

“I’m extremely disappointed for our players because I thought we played hard enough and well enough to win,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald.

“Sometimes games come down to one possession or one play and if it’s the last play of the game or the last couple of plays whoever is involved with that either is excited because they helped win the game or dejected because they think they may have lost the game. The reality of that is there were many singular plays which happened in the first half which also could’ve made a difference.

“I wasn’t very pleased with our execution during the last minute of play. With that said and most importantly, is the fact that I still feel for our players because I do believe they played well enough to win.”

Just like the first meeting which State won 78-75 in Fairmont back on Dec. 7, the contest was close throughout. FSU actually led most of the way, but an early second-half surge by the Lady Yellow Jackets gave them a pair of five-point leads around the 13-minute mark.

Led by Emily Lohr and Hailey Garrett, however, FSU quickly rallied and got the game back to one possession where it stayed until around the five-minute mark. At that point trailing 56-54, Fairmont went on an 8-0 run capped by a pair of free throws by Makenzie White with 49 seconds left which gave her team a 62-56 lead.

State, which went 5:23 without scoring while FSU built its six-point lead, exploded for seven points in final 34 seconds thanks to a trio of Lady Falcon turnovers and a pair of missed free throws by Garrett with 12 seconds left and her team holding a 62-61 lead.

Joining Greenleaf in double figures for State were India Taste, who finished with 15 points, seven steals and four assists and Lexy Carson, who ended up with 10 points.

White led FSU with 19 points, 11 of which came in the opening half. The Lady Falcons also got 17 points and five rebounds from Lohr. She scored 13 of her points in the second half. Garrett chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds, while Hallie Gunnoe contributed seven points.

“After a game like this it’s hard to go in the locker room and talk about your next opponent but that’s what we did after our initial discussion,” said McDonald. “We can’t hang our heads. We have to come out Friday, practice hard and get ready for (West Virginia) Wesleyan Saturday.

“I’m constantly pushing this team to practice hard so it translates into better play for us in games. I still believe we have a very good team and have the opportunity to have a very good season.”

FSU visits Wesleyan for a 2 p.m. MEC contest Saturday afternoon at the Rockefeller Center.