The monkey no longer lives in Fairmont.
For the first time in 12 years and the first time in eight tries, Fairmont State’s men’s basketball team found a way to win in Charleston at the annual West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
The second-seeded Falcons used a high-energy effort and smothering defense to post their first quarterfinal-round victory since 2001 when they eliminated seventh-seeded Seton Hill University, 77-63, here Thursday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time in Fairmont,” said first-year FSU coach Jerrod Calhoun, who is a student of the history of Falcons basketball.
This time of the year it’s all about advancing. Teams that rebound the ball, which we did a tremendous job of doing today because I think we were plus-16 on the glass, teams that play solid defense and teams that make easy baskets are going to advance and we’re just happy to advance.”
The win improved Fairmont, which was rated fifth in the latest NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Rankings, to 21-7 on the year. It also sets up a semifinal showdown Friday at 6:30 p.m. with third-seeded Alderson-Broaddus (20-8) at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum. The Battlers advanced to Friday’s semifinals thanks to an 82-69 win over Glenville State Thursday.
FSU and A-B met just once during the regular season with the Falcons recording an 81-73 victory in Fairmont on Feb. 14.
Thursday, Fairmont State played inspired basketball. One week after suffering a 76-73 loss to Seton Hill late in the regular season, the Falcons got a shot at redemption and took full advantage of it.
“We were really excited to have the opportunity to play them again,” said FSU senior guard Isaac Thornton, who finished with 23 points and nine rebounds in Thursday’s win. “We hate losing, and we wanted another shot at them.”
Seton Hill, which was limited to just six two-point field goals in the game, used a barrage of early 3-pointers to open a 16-10 lead over the Falcons 10 minutes into the contest. The Falcons, though, amped up their defensive pressure against the league’s top defensive team and led by Thornton and senior point guard Malik Stith exploded on a 20-3 run over the course of the next six minutes to take control of the game for good at 30-19. FSU ended the first half holding a 38-24 advantage. The 24 points were the fewest scored by Seton Hill in the first half this season.
“Give credit to Seton Hill for being a good team,” said Stith, who led all scorers with a game-high 25 points. “That made us come out from the start and have the energy we needed to get the win. Sometimes we come out lackadaisical, but today we set the tone early and let people know we were here.
“We had some lapses here and there, but for the most part I think we gave great effort and we rebounded the ball very well. Championship teams rebound the ball and defend and we did that today.
“At this point all you can ask for is a great effort, and we got that today from everyone. You can’t worry about missing a shot or making a mistake here or there. You’ve just got to think about making the next play, playing hard and finding a way to win.”
In the second half Fairmont extended its lead to as many as 19 at 57-38 with 10:20 left to play before the contest turned into a foul fest and Seton Hill was able to edge closer. The Griffins, however, never got the lead below 11 points.
“Fairmont State was rock solid today,” said Seton Hill coach Tony Morocco. “They did a very good job against us. They’re a very good basketball team and a very aggressive team. They’re strong and physical and they took us out of a lot of what we wanted to run.
“I think that’s an NCAA Tournament team regardless of whether they win down here or not. They’re just that good.”
The Griffins’ Oliver McGlade who finished with 24 points, 18 of which came off of six 3-point field goals, agrees.
“Their pressure got to us,” said McGlade, who was the only Seton Hill player to reach double figures in the scoring column. “It wore us down. They’re probably the best defensive team in the league. Fairmont and West Liberty are both very good on defense.”
Fairmont limited Seton Hill to just 34 percent (16-of-47) shooting from the field for the game and out-rebounded the Griffins, 52-36. No fewer than 24 of Fairmont’s rebounds came on the offensive glass. FSU also forced 15 SHU turnovers.
Melvin Rhodes joined Stith and Thornton in double figures for Fairmont with 11 points and eight rebounds. The Falcons also got seven points and eight rebounds from Isaiah Hill.
FSU rolls, back in semis for first time since ’01
The monkey no longer lives in Fairmont.
- Fairmont State Sports
Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State
In its biggest game of the season to date Fairmont State suffered its worst performance.
Fifth-seeded FSU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field (18-of-61), including a dismal 8-of-33 showing (24.2 percent) in the second half and as a result fell, 71-59, to fourth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament here Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Falcons hope for tournament run
Since day one, making another post-season run has been at the top of Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun’s mind.
Last season the Falcons went three-for-four in the WVIAC Tournament, falling to West Liberty in the tournament’s final game. The strong run, though, propelled the Falcons into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
FSU women roll in MEC Tourney opener
Fifth-seeded Fairmont State didn't waste any time Tuesday night punching its ticket for Charleston and earning a berth in the Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Wimbush named MEC Freshman of the Year
Thomas Wimbush has been named Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year, as announced by the league office this afternoon. Wimbush also joined teammates Stevie Browning and Brendan Cooper on the MEC second team.
FSU women to open MEC Tournament
When Fairmont State’s women’s basketball team toppled Shepherd, 103-80, Saturday, coach Steve McDonald didn’t know who his team would face.
Falcons edge Shepherd, earn first-round bye: PHOTOS
The scenario Saturday afternoon on Senior Day for Fairmont State's men's basketball team in its regular-season finale against visiting Shepherd University was pretty simple.
Win and receive an automatic first-round bye in the upcoming Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament. Lose and host a first-round game Tuesday night at the Joe Retton Arena.
Innocent, Garrett star as Lady Falcons roll: PHOTOS
Saturday afternoon on Senior Day at the Joe Retton Arena Fairmont State senior Brianna Innocent was anything but that against visiting Shepherd University.
The 6-foot-1 backup center came off the bench and torched the Lady Rams in the regular-season finale for 27 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to help lead FSU to a 103-80 victory.
COLUMN: Senior season comes full circle for FSU’s Innocent
In like a lion, out like a lamb. That old adage could be used to describe Bri Innocent’s senior season with Fairmont State.
Not to say that she finished her season quietly. Quite the opposite actually.
In her first game in a Falcon uniform, she played like a lion, pouring in 20 points and ripping down 10 rebounds.
FSU looks to close regular season with win
Fairmont State University’s men’s basketball team closed practice on Thursday the way it hopes to close out the regular season today at home against Shepherd at 4 p.m., directly following the women’s contest at 2 p.m.
Sophomore guard Stevie Browning went head-to-head with graduate student assistant coach Sidney Crist in a 3-point shootout.
FSU offering $1 tickets for Saturday’s games
The Fairmont State athletic department will be offering a $1 general admission ticket to any fan that donates a non-perishable food or personal care item at Saturday’s basketball doubleheader against Shepherd.
The doubleheader will begin at 2 p.m. with the women’s game and will be followed by the men’s contest at approximately 4 p.m.
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- Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State