Times West Virginian
Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons bounced back from Monday’s loss to league-leading Glenville State with a stellar performance in an impressive 71-52 road win over Wheeling Jesuit University here Thursday evening at the McDonough Center.
The victory, Fairmont’s eighth in 10 games, improves the Lady Falcons to 13-7 overall and to 11-6 in the Mountain East Conference. Fairmont is currently fourth in the 12-team league standings.
FSU was very efficient on offense last night connecting on 46.6 percent of its field goal attempts (27-of-58) and 85.7 percent of its free throws (12-of-14). The Lady Falcons had four individuals reach double figures led by junior center Hailey Garrett, who finished with 20 points and six rebounds.
Fairmont also got a solid all-around performance from sophomore point guard Makenzie White, who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, a game-high six assists and a game-high five steals.
“I hate to take credit for all of those (steals) because about three times Hailey (Garrett) is the one who knocked it out of the girl’s hands and I was just there to pick the ball up,” said White with a laugh. “But, I’ll take them.
“I really thought this was a great team win for us because everyone contributed. As for me, every game I just try to take what the defense gives me. If I have the shot I’ll take it, but I really try to scan the floor at all times to look for cutters.”
FSU also got her first career double-double performance from true freshman guard Deidra Combs, who finished with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Emily Lohr chipped in 12 points for the Lady Falcons, while Hallie Gunnoe added six.
As good as Fairmont was last night on offense, the Lady Falcons were equally impressive on defense. FSU held Wheeling, a team which had won four of its last five coming into the contest, to just 30.6 percent shooting from the field (19-of-62), including a dismal 1-of-9 showing from 3-point range. The Lady Cardinals also struggled tremendously at the foul line where they connected on just 13-of-25 attempts (52 percent).
“Honestly I think this was just a great all-around game for our team with the way we played tonight,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “Offensively we shared the ball, and defensively we guarded well and rebounded the ball. I just think it was one of our better overall performances of the year.
“Anytime you’re coming off of a loss when you’ve been playing well you’re anxious as a coach to see how your team is going to respond and tonight I’m just very, very pleased. We responded very well.”
FSU began the game with a 14-3 spurt before Wheeling settled in and made it a five-point game in the Lady Falcons favor at the half.
At the beginning of second half, FSU started strong again. Fairmont opened the final 20 minutes with a 13-5 run to build a 42-29 advantage by the 15-minute mark and for all intents and purposes the contest was never really close after that.
“I love the way we came out and played in the first five or six minutes of the game and I really liked the way we started the first five minutes of the second half,” said McDonald. “We then just carried that through the entire second half. I don’t want to say this was a surprise, but our team just really gave a good effort against a Wheeling team which had been playing very well here recently.”
WJU, which fell to 11-11 overall and to 8-10 in the Mountain East Conference, didn’t have a single player reach double figures in the loss. The Lady Cardinals were led by Jaana Motton’s nine points and five rebounds. Wheeling also got eight points and six boards from Jaila Bryant and seven points and seven rebounds from Breanna Butler.
FSU returns to action when it hosts second-place West Liberty University (16-8, 13-5) Saturday in an important MEC showdown at 2 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena.