Times West Virginian
An undermanned Fairmont State University men’s basketball team took the University of Charleston to the wire here Thursday night before falling 75-71 at the Eddie King Gymnasium.
The loss drops the Falcons to 5-2 overall and to 1-2 in the Mountain East Conference. Charleston, meanwhile, improved to 5-1 overall and to 2-1 in the league.
With senior forward Brendan Cooper sidelined back home in Fairmont with a reported hand injury, Fairmont struggled to find consistency on offense last night. Redshirt freshman guard/forward Thomas Wimbush stepped up in his absence and scored a career-high 23 points, but didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates until the very end. Wimbush also grabbed 10 rebounds to record his first double-double of the year.
Trailing 66-55 with 5:30 remaining Fairmont made a final run thanks to Wimbush, Caleb Davis, Shammgod Wells and Stevie Browning which got the Falcons to within two at 73-71 with 26 seconds remaining.
UC’s Tino diTrapano made 1-of-2 free throws with 23 seconds left leaving the door open for Fairmont to tie it on a last possession. On that possession, the Falcons were looking to get Chase Morgan open for a 3-pointer but when Morgan set a screen and rolled off it, UC guard Denzel Douglas anticipated the play and intercepted Davis’ pass intended for Morgan to help seal the victory for the Golden Eagles.
Douglas was fouled with eight seconds left and made one of his two free throws to secure the victory for his team.
Martins Abele joined Wimbush in double figures for the Falcons with 12 points and 11 rebounds. FSU also got 11 points from Davis, 10 from Browning and nine from Wells.
Morgan, who was seeing his first action for the Falcons since suffering a fractured eye socket several days ago, had trouble getting back on track last night. The outside sharp shooter uncharacteristically struggled to find his shot after a long layoff and finished with just three points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field.
Charleston, which forced Fairmont to commit 18 turnovers and suffered just 10 itself, was led by diTrapano and Baptiste Boucharel, who both enjoyed career-high scoring performances with 15 points apiece. The Golden Eagles also got 12 points from Aleksander Kesic.
Fairmont State will attempt to bounce back Saturday afternoon when it hosts West Virginia State in a 4 p.m. game at Joe Retton Arena.