Times West Virginian
Fairmont State dug itself an early hole it could never get out of and as a result suffered its first setback of the 2013-14 season Monday night against a charged-up Glenville State team at the Lilly Gymnasium.
The Pioneers erased an early 22-12 deficit with an impressive 36-6 run during the last 7:15 of the opening half and the first three minutes of the second half en route to a 94-87 victory over the shell-shocked and injury-riddled Falcons.
Glenville’s impressive run came as a result of a 2-3 matchup zone defense that FSU had trouble solving without its leading 3-point threat Chase Morgan, who is sidelined with a broken eye socket.
At the other end, Fairmont’s defense, at times in the game, looked like swiss cheese — full of holes. And through those holes the Pioneers attacked the rim again and again for easy buckets to build as much as a 21-point lead on three occasions before Fairmont mounted a late rally that got it to within five on numerous occasions in the final 4:26.
“We were down three players tonight. Tommy (Scales), Ke’Chaun (Lewis) and Chase (Morgan) were all out, and anytime you have guys like that out, you’ve got to have other players step up for you, and I don’t think we had anyone step up for us tonight,” said FSU coach Jerrod Calhoun. “Brendan Cooper, our senior, did not play well for us, and when you have a young team like we have you’ve got to have your seniors play well in a game like this. We didn’t.
“We could not execute zone offense and we’re going to see that all year. Teams will study the tape and sit back in 2-3 zones and make us shoot because obviously tonight we couldn’t shoot very well from outside. We just didn’t handle it very well. We would’ve loved to have had Chase. He’s been playing very well for us, but we don’t have him and won’t have him for a few weeks because he has a broken bone in his face. Therefore, other guys have to fill that void, and tonight they didn’t.”
The loss drops Fairmont State to 4-1 overall and to 1-1 in the Mountain East Conference. Glenville State, on the other hand, improved to 3-1 overall and to 1-1 in the league.
“We’re a young team and we’ve got to get better, but the sad part of it is these kids just don’t understand when you’re trying to win a league title, every game is huge,” said Calhoun. “West Liberty doesn’t lose games they’re not supposed to lose.
“Tonight we put ourselves in a big hole, but hopefully we can get better the next three days. There’s no rules on practice so we will practice quite a bit here the next three or four days and get better as a team and get ready for Saturday.”
As noted, Fairmont started strong and built an early 10-point lead 12 minutes into the contest. However, Glenville answered Fairmont’s early success with a 25-4 run to end the first half and take a 37-26 lead at the break.
In the first three minutes of the second half, the Pioneers had extended the lead to 20 and eventually got it to 21 before FSU mounted a comeback bid led by Stevie Browning, Caleb Davis and Thomas Wimbush, which fell short.
“Our kids didn’t quit, but the bottom line is our effort tonight wasn’t good enough,” said Calhoun. “They weren’t ready to play.”
Browning, who was held to just two points in the first half, finished with a game-high 27, but was just 11-of-31 from the field and 3-of-15 from 3-point range. He also grabbed nine rebounds.
Davis chipped in 21 points, 18 of which came in the final half, and Wimbush added 15 points, including eight in the final 20 minutes. The Falcons also got eight points from Mamadou Datt and five points and 12 rebounds from Brendan Cooper.
Glenville, which shot 53.1 percent from the field, including a red-hot 66.7 percent in the second half (20-of-30), was led by Lamar Mallory’s 25 points and nine rebounds. The Pioneers also got 23 points, seven assists and four steals from Reggie Williams; 17 points from Kevin Gray, who was 11-of-11 at the foul line; 14 points and nine rebounds from Donte Morales; and 11 points from Jordan McCloud.
Fairmont will attempt to bounce back Saturday when it hosts WVU-Tech in a 1 p.m. nonleague game at the Joe Retton Arena. The Golden Bears upended the Falcons last season in Fairmont, 87-83.