JOHNSTOWN, Pa. —
It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy, but in the end Thursday night here at the Sports Center, Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons found a way to get it done and pull out a hard-fought 69-66 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Pitt-Johnstown.
Fairmont, which hadn’t played in eight days due to the Thanksgiving break, looked rusty during most of the contest and could never string together a run to pull away from the pesky Lady Mountain Cats. However, trailing by three just inside the six-minute mark, Fairmont found its stride on both ends of the floor and outscored UPJ 11-5 down the stretch to record the win which improved it to 3-2 overall and to 2-0 in the WVIAC.
“Pitt-Johnstown had won two games in a row on the road by double digits coming into this one, including a 22-point win over Clarion Tuesday night,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “We beat Clarion by two. So, to go on the road to Pitt-Johnstown and win by any margin is fantastic for us.
“I’m certainly very pleased with the way we shot the ball tonight. That’s encouraging for us. I also liked the way that when plays broke down tonight we were still able to make plays down the stretch. This was a good team win for us. We played with some poise and confidence in the last three minutes of the game, and that made a difference for us.”
Hailey Garrett helped lead FSU to the victory with her first double-double performance of the season. The 6-foot sophomore center scored 18 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. She also dished out a game-high six assists.
Garrett ignited Fairmont’s comeback with a put-back basket at the 5:23 mark. She then handed out two key assists to teammates Kaitlin Snyder and Briana Welch for baskets which tied the game at 64 with 1:21 remaining.
On the defensive end, Garrett came up with a crucial rebound off a missed layup by UPJ’s Grace Hyland and fed Snyder, who went coast-to-coast for a layup to give the Lady Falcons a 66-64 lead it never relinquished with 54 seconds left to play. Snyder, who also finished with 18 points, then sealed the victory for FSU at the foul line by going 3-of-5 in the final 34 seconds.
UPJ did have a chance to tie the contest at the end, but Kayla DeCriscio’s contested 3-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.
“It was a little rough for us tonight at times, but getting the win is all that matters,” said Garrett, who scored 10 of her 18 points in the second half. “I think we played hard for the most part and made some key shots. We came together as a team and fought until the end.
“This game was a good building block for us. Now we need to focus our attention on Bluefield.”
FSU, which hosts Bluefield State Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena in the first game of a doubleheader with the Falcon men, also got 14 points from Emily Lohr, eight from Tiffany Nicholson and seven points and six rebounds from Welch.
Pitt-Johnstown, which fell to 2-3 overall and to 0-3 in the league, was led by Kaitlynn Fratz’s 17 points. The Lady Mountain Cats also got 14 points and seven rebounds from Inaya Stephenson and 11 points apiece from both Kelsey Sleighter and Rachel Johnson.