By Jarrod Harris
Times West Virginian
Fairmont State women’s basketball fell to Indiana of Pennsylvania (IUP), 50-47, at Joe Retton Arena on Saturday.
During the loss, FSU committed a 19 turnovers that led to their first loss of the season.
Even though the Lady Falcons committed turnover after turnover, IUP found itself with a total of 21 turnovers on the game.
Sloppy play or good defense — or a little bit of both?
“We played pretty good as a team,” said starting guard Tiffany Nicholson. “We did really well defensively, but I know we can do better in future games.”
However, she felt FSU could learn some lessons offensively after several poor second-half possessions got in the way of a likely win.
“I feel like we were just throwing the shots up. We needed to keep better composure, and wait for the right opportunity before shooting a two or a three pointer.”
Being down just 50-47 with over 25 seconds remaining in the game, the Falcons made mistake after mistake, while just throwing up shots as if the game wasn’t on the line.
“I didn’t like the way we finished the game at all,” said FSU head coach Steve McDonald. “But I think IUP is very good, so they helped force us into some mistakes.”
At the very beginning of the game, FSU was in control, racing to a quick 7-0 lead.
Briana Welch opened the game with a layup that set an early tone for the Lady Falcons. Kaitlin Snyder then blocked a shot, recovered the shot for a steal and then dished an over the shoulder pass to Hailey Garrett — giving the Lady Falcons a 4-0 lead.
Nicholson then planted a 3-pointer in the face of Lady Crimson Hawk defender Lindsay Stamp. That made it 7-0.
“The shot felt good, it felt good getting the early lead,” said Nicholson. “We tried to keep the pace up, while trying to pull away.”
Fast forwarding later in the first half, IUP would make a comeback by out-shooting the Falcons.
Down 26-20, FSU’s Snyder dished another three to Emily Lohr, narrowing the gap to 26-23.
“Emily is a clutch player,” McDonald stated. “She’s a really good shooter, and we’re thrilled to have her on our team.”
Then, down again three at 28-25, it was the Nicholson show — she nailed two steals and then drilled a pair of foul shots with just 45 seconds remaining in the first half.
“I really like playing defense,” Nicholson emphasized. “I just feel like if I’m more aggressive on defense, I can do better on offense. Plus that will help the team out a lot.”
The Lady Falcons trailed at halftime, 28-27.
“We had momentum in our favor at half,” said Nicholson. “We needed to go out of half and make a few clutch baskets, which we did.”
FSU would immediately come out of the gates with an assist from Welch to Garrett that gave FSU a 29-28 advantage.
Then Snyder would force yet another steal, and then dish another assist to Nicholson who drilled a 3-pointer.
“Kaitlin passes the ball really well,” said Nicholson. “It makes it easier to have someone always looking and then hitting you when you’re open.”
The game would go back and forth for another ten minutes — with 4:53 remaining, FSU was leading 45-44.
IUP would nail a fast shot that gave them a 46-45 lead and then IUP’s Talen Watson shot a dagger in the hearts of the Lady Falcons. The shot went for a three, giving the Crimson Hawks a 49-45 lead.
Here, the Lady Falcons tried to do anything in its power to gain the lead back.
This feasible comeback led to a poor shot selection, while putting a hurting on the Lady Falcons’ final shooting percentage – which was a meek 33 percent.
With 24-seconds left in the game, Snyder would hit a three that narrowed the gap to 50-47 and that is where the score would stand when the final buzzer rung.
“We’re going to learn from the game, but when you lose a game and you feel better about your team, that’s a good sign,” said McDonald.
“I think we’re talented enough and I think our coaching staff works hard enough that if we compete for 40-minutes throughout the rest of the year, we’re going to reach the goals that we plan to reach,” McDonald stated.
Nicholson added, “We can learn from this loss. Next game, we should be able to come back and get a win.”
Key contributors for the Lady Falcons were Snyder, who had eight points, four steals and four assists; Lohr had 13 points, one steal, and one assist; Garrett had six points, two assists and one steal; and Nicholson chipped in six points, six assists, and four assists.
FSU are back in action on Tuesday when it visits California (Pa.).
Email Jarrod Harris at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter@JarrodHarrisTWV.