The Times West Virginian

Fairmont State Sports

February 9, 2014

Cooper, Wimbush lead FSU past Notre Dame: PHOTOS

FAIRMONT — With leading scorer Stevie Browning uncharacteristically struggling on offense someone had to step up for Fairmont State Saturday afternoon against visiting Notre Dame College at the Joe Retton Arena.

Thank you Brendan Cooper and Thomas Wimbush. That duo combined for 45 points and 21 rebounds, including 32 points and 16 boards in the second half to help lead the Falcons to a 78-74 victory.

The win, FSU’s fourth in a row and fifth in six games, improved the Falcons to 15-6 overall and to 10-5 in the Mountain East Conference. Fairmont remains in third place in the league, a half-of-a-game behind Shepherd.

Saturday’s contest was close throughout but in the end it was the play of Cooper and Wimbush which made the big difference for FSU. Cooper finished with a game-high 25 points, including nine straight during a 2:35 stretch late which helped FSU extend it’s 64-61 lead to 73-68 with a minute to play.

“Coach told us he didn’t want us settling for outside shots. He wanted us to get our heads down and get to the rim and either get buckets or get fouled and that’s what I was trying to do there,” said Cooper, who had some beautiful attacks of the rim.

Cooper scored early and late for Fairmont, but the first part of the second half belonged to Wimbush, who finished with 20 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Wimbush had just two points and three rebounds at the half, but in the final 20 minutes scored 20 points and grabbed 10 boards.

“If I’m scoring that’s going to attract some attention to me and when that’s the case I’m going to look for my teammates,” said Cooper, who set up Wimbush inside a number of times for crucial layups in the win. “Thomas has great hands and can score with it so I’m definitely going to try to get him the ball when I can.”

Caleb Davis added nine points for FSU and sealed the win for his team with a pair of clutch free throws with 7.7 seconds left. The Falcons also got eight points, 10 boards and a game-high five blocked shots from Trevor Andrews-Evans. Browning, who averages 18 points per outing, was held to a season-low four points.

FSU shot 42.6 percent from the field (26-of-61), 74.3 percent from the line (26-of-35) and out-rebounded Notre Dame 49-37.

NDC stayed close by going 27-of-31 at the foul line and by converting on crucial buckets almost every time FSU tried to pull away.

“Notre Dame has two of the best guards in the league in (Lawrence) DeArmond and (Tyree) Gaiter,” said Falcon coach Jerrod Calhoun. “They’re both averaging 20 a night and we knew it was going to be tough for us. Every game in this league is going to be a battle.

“I thought Coop stepped up for us with 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists and I think Thomas Wimbush had a very good second half. You know Coop was out for a while, so he and Thomas are still learning to play together. That’s tough because we haven’t had a lot of practice time.”

DeArmond led NDC with 21 points, while Gaiter added 16.

Fairmont returns to action with a make-up game Monday evening against Glenville State at 7:30 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena.

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