That best describes the performance Monday evening of Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons in the second half of their 68-41 victory over visiting Pitt-Johnstown at the Joe Retton Arena.
UPJ came into the game having won six of its last seven outings and 10 of its last 13. The only recent setback for the Lady Mountain Cats came by six points to league-leading Glenville State.
Fairmont, on the other hand, had dropped two of its last three and five of its last eight.
On Monday, however, the Lady Falcons returned to form thanks to a suffocating second-half defense that held UPJ to just five field goals and 13 total points.
“I’m really, really proud of our kids tonight for their efforts,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald, who watched his team improve to 15-8 overall and to 13-5 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. “We had
an idea of what we wanted to do tonight defensively against them, but no matter what you design if your players don’t buy into it and don’t execute it, then it doesn’t work. Tonight they really bought into what we wanted them to do and played extremely hard. I think this was probably our best half of defense that we’ve played in my 13 years here, especially given the fact that Pitt-Johnstown is a very good basketball team and was playing very well coming in here.”
Fairmont held UPJ to a 5-of-32 shooting performance in the second half (15.6 percent) and held the league’s second-leading scorer Kaitlynn Fratz, who came into the contest averaging 19.6 points per outing, to zero points for the first time in her college career. Her previous season-low of points this season was nine. Fratz did not play in the game’s final nine minutes.
“We haven’t been playing very good defense lately and tonight we all got together and realized that we needed to play good defense to win,” said FSU’s Tiffany Nicholson, who finished with 12 points, three steals and three rebounds. “When we play defense like we did tonight we’re just a much better all-around team. Good defense leads to good offense for us.”
Fairmont opened an 18-6 lead early on UPJ only to watch the Lady Mountain Cats explode on a 17-3 run to take a short-lived 23-21 lead with 3:33 left in the opening half. The teams then settled for a 28-28 tie at the break.
In the second half FSU senior point guard Kaitlin Snyder wasted no time keying a game-changing 16-5 run during the first 7:30 to help the Lady Falcons open a 44-33 advantage with 12:32 remaining.
After that, the contest wasn’t close. Snyder scored 10 of her game-high 21 points on the run.
“Our full-court pressure defense really helped us tonight,” said Snyder, who also grabbed eight rebounds in the win. “Tiffany got a lot of steals for us off of that and everyone contributed tonight, which was a key. We needed this win. We were coming off of a bad loss to State and we needed to get back on track.
“Everything clicked for us offensively and defensively. We spread things out a little more on offense and I think that helped us. We knew Pitt-Johnstown had a very good team. We played them early on and only beat them by three. We knew they had a couple of very good players and we tried to key in on them and take them away, and for the most part I think we did a good job of that.”
FSU’s Hailey Garrett, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds, agreed.
“We knew we had to get a win tonight and we knew we had to play hard to do it,” said Garrett, who tallied 10 of her points in the second half. “We definitely did that. This win kind of re-motivated us.
“We’ve got to pick it up here during the remainder of the regular season, play like we know we can play, and I think we’ll be fine.”
Hallie Gunnoe chipped in eight points and eight rebounds for FSU, while Emily Lohr grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and had three points.
UPJ, which entered the game just one spot behind FSU in the league standings, fell to 13-8 overall and to 11-8 in the WVIAC. The Lady Mountain Cats were led by Nicole Carmen, who had 13 points, and Inaya Stephenson, who finished with 10.
FSU, which remained third in the conference standings, will host Alderson-Broaddus in its next outing Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena. The Lady Battlers have won three of their last four games.
COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes
Last week we told you about a proposal that would extend the summer practice period for West Virginia high schools.
It’s already cleared the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Board of Control. Now it’s up to the West Virginia Board of Education to decide if the current three-week window should be expanded by five weeks.
Bussie looks forward to WNBA
On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball
It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Pirates finish off suspended game, fall in nightcap
Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole’s winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete
The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.
East can’t overcome No. 7 Lincoln, falls, 4-0
Thunder clouds weren’t the only thing looming over the East Fairmont (6-6) softball team Monday when the Lady Bees hosed No. 7 Lincoln. Joining the ominous clouds was a sense of urgency for energy that never showed up as Lincoln was able to shut out East Fairmont, 4-0.
Gyorko, Padres agree to extension
Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved
From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.
WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI
There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.
FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage
There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.
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