By Duane Cochran
Times West Virginian
From game to game Fairmont State’s Courtney Swiger never knows when she’s going to be called for active duty.
Thus, Swiger, a sophomore guard from Barrackville, remains patient and ready on the Lady Falcons’ bench.
Thursday evening in a crucial West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle with visiting Alderson-Broaddus at the Joe Retton Arena, Swiger got the call late in the first half and again early in the second and the former North Marion standout responded in fine fashion.
Swiger scored nine points, including six on a 10-0 FSU run during a 3:16 span midway through the final half to help the Lady Falcons wipe out a two-point deficit, open an eight-point lead and take control of the game for good en route to a 59-53 victory.
“I’m Tiffany’s (Nicholson) backup and I hate to see her come off of the floor, but when I do get called I just try to go out there try to do the best I can,” said Swiger. “When I’m open I’ll shoot. That’s what every shooter does.
“At that point in the second half we were moving the ball really well. We were moving and not standing still on offense, and I got some open looks. My teammates found me. I’ve got to give them credit. They looked for me, got me the ball, and I hit a couple of shots.”
Once Swiger and the Lady Falcons got the lead midway through the second half, they never relinquished it. FSU extended its advantage to as many as 10 before settling for the six-point victory which improved them to 16-8 overall and to 14-5 in the league.
“Courtney comes in and always seems to hit some big shots when we need them,” said FSU’s Hailey Garrett, who led her team with 15 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three assists. “She did it in high school, and she’s carrying it over to college. I’m proud of her for coming off of the bench and being ready to go. She plays good defense. She hits shots, and she makes plays for us, which is all we can ask.”
Fairmont got balanced scoring in the victory. Joining Garrett in double figures for the Lady Falcons were Emily Lohr and Tiffany Nicholson, who finished with 11 and 10 points respectively.
“Early on we settled for too many outside shots tonight, and they weren’t falling,” said Lohr. “Coach (Steve McDonald) told us to attack the rim and get movement on offense and once we did that opened things up a little against their zone. I thought Hailey did a good job of finding Bri (Briana Welch) a few times for layups inside.”
Welch finished with six points and nine rebounds, while Kaitlin Snyder chipped in six points, four rebounds and four assists.
A-B, which had won three of its last four games coming into last night’s contest, fell to 7-16 overall and to 6-13 in the league. The Lady Battlers were led by Amanda Peoples’ 15 points and 11 rebounds. She got 13 of her points in the opening half, but was held to just two points by FSU’s defense in the final half. A-B also got 12 points from Shirshawna Dowdy.
“Josh Allen, I think, is one of the best coaches in the league,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “I think sometimes your record is also a reflection of your resources. They run great sets. They play good defense, and they play hard. They’ve played virtually everyone in the league tough, and they were playing extremely well coming into this game.
“The most important thing for us in this game is we’ve become a team which defends and can rebound, and when we defend and when we rebound we play well. Tonight I thought we defended pretty well. We rebounded pretty well, and we got a win.”
Fairmont State, which is currently third in the 15-team WVIAC standings, will square off against second-place West Liberty Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena. The Lady Hilltoppers are 16-6 overall, 14-4 in the league and have won four straight and seven of their last eight. FSU defeated the Lady Hilltoppers earlier this season, 73-62.