By Duane Cochran
For the Times West Virginian
For Fairmont State’s Makenzie White Monday evening was all about redemption for her and her Lady Falcon teammates.
White, FSU’s leading scorer, battled foul trouble in Fairmont’s loss to Concord Saturday and played a mere 14 minutes before fouling out with just two points and over 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Monday, however, was a different story for the former state player of the year. White scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the opening half to help FSU grab control of its contest early with visiting UVa-Wise at the Joe Retton Arena and roll to a 77-52 victory.
“I definitely wanted to come out here tonight and play good, but I want to play good every night,” said White, who also grabbed four rebounds, recorded five steals, handed out four assists and didn’t commit a single foul before exiting Monday’s game for good with nine minutes left and her team leading, 61-38.
“It killed me not being able to play Saturday, especially with the game being so close to my home. I really wanted us to win and even though I was on the bench, I was over there cheering us on. It definitely put a dagger in me not being able to be out there. Tonight, I wasn’t looking to go out and score a bunch of points. I was just trying to take advantage of what they were giving me.”
White and her teammates definitely did that. As noted, Fairmont wasted little time establishing its dominance in the game. Less than 13 minutes into the contest FSU had built a double-digit lead and after that the Lady Cavaliers never got any closer than nine.
“Sunday in practice coach Mac (Steve McDonald) really emphasized us being more focused coming into games,” said FSU’s Emily Lohr, who contributed 12 points and seven rebounds. “There’s times when we’ve thought we were ready and then lost our mental focus. That was a point of emphasis for us tonight.
“We switched defenses a lot so we had to focus and I think that really helped us a lot. They had trouble adapting to what we were running defensively and as a result they turned the ball over a lot.”
Wise suffered 22 turnovers in the contest, shot just 36.4 percent from the field (20-of-55) and got out-rebounded by the Lady Falcons by 12.
FSU led 31-20 at the break, but during the first four minutes of the second half turned up its defensive intensity and quickly extended its lead to 22 at 44-22.
“We did a nice job of running in the first half and getting a lead and then during the first five minutes of the second half I was unbelievably pleased with our intensity and how we kept it up and kept it up even through some timeouts,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald, who saw his team improve to 6-5 overall and to 4-4 in the Mountain East Conference. “We really never let off the pedal the entire second half.”
True freshman guard/forward Deidra Combs helped key FSU’s big second-half performance. She scored a career-high 15 points all in the second half, recorded five steals and grabbed seven rebounds.
“Usually whenever my offensive game isn’t there I play hard defense. If I play hard defense, my offense will come and I think that was the case tonight,” said Combs. “I just believe that defense creates offense.”
Brianna Innocent came off the bench for Fairmont and added 14 points and seven rebounds.
Wise, which lost for the fifth time in six games and fell to 7-6 overall and to 3-6 in the MEC, was led by Katie Jo Lester’s 11 points. She was the lone Lady Cavalier to reach double figures in the game.
Fairmont will be idle now until Saturday when it visits West Liberty University for a 2 p.m. game with the Lady Hilltoppers at the ASRC.